The MoU lays emphasis on a group exercise to conduct mid-winter water bird census every year and undertake research studies in the lake area with social and scientific responsibility towards achieving community-led initiative in wetland conservation and promotion of wildlife.
For the first time in Manipur, and in Northeast India, eight educational institutions came together upon an agreed agenda of wildlife promotion and conservation with specific focus on migratory waterbird population within and around Loktak Ramsar site.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between heads of Mangolnganbi College (Ningthoukhong), CI College (Bishnupur), Nambol L Sanoi College (Nambol), Mayai Lambi College (Yumnam Huidrom), Kumbi College (Kumbi), S Kula Women’s College (Nambol) and Parvabati College (Mayang Imphal) pledged to work collectively in research collaborations, students and faculty exchanges on different aspects including long term conservation, protection and promotion of wildlife in the Loktak Lake area, with specific focus on the trans-boundary migratory water bird species.
The MoU comes as a lead initiative of ornithologist RK Birjit who heads the State chapter of the Indian Bird Conservation Network (IBCN), and currently principal of Mangolnganbi College, Ningthoukhong. The MoU was signed as part of the inaugural proceedings of the day-one function of a two-day (28-29 January) Preparatory Workshop on Identification of Water Birds under the overview of the IBCN.
The preparatory workshop is prelude to an intensive migratory water bird census in and around Loktak Lake which would cover 50 locations on a one-time operation. Bird watchers, researchers, students and faculty from the eight colleges will be participating in the bird count.
The Memorandum of Understanding specifically lays emphasis on a group exercise to conduct mid-winter water bird census every year and undertake research studies in the lake area with social and scientific responsibility towards achieving community-led initiative in wetland conservation and promotion of wildlife.
The cooperation would also facilitate academic exchanges between the eight colleges and enhance the capability of the students and teaching faculty towards field-oriented activities. The thrust would be on creating a corpus fund that would fund publication of research works and strengthen the understanding of undergraduate students on scientific approach to higher studies and professional career.
As part of the orientation program, resource persons including former principal of Kumbi College Jugeshwar and bird watcher Khumanthem Brajesh presented talks on identification of water birds with particular reference to Loktak Ramsar site.
Sharing in the proceeding of the workshop, State Board for Wildlife member Salam Rajesh observed that the Northeast India being a global biodiversity hot spot there is much focus on the region nationally and internationally, and therefore the campaign initiated by the IBCN Manipur chapter is important in the context of Loktak as focal point of two significant international flyways – the Central Asian Flyway and the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. There is also much scope of promoting birding as a potential tourism venture for the local communities, he added.
The workshop is facilitated by the Directorate of Environment & Climate Change, Forest Department, Loktak Development Authority and Geo-Environmental and Technical Services (GETS). Apart of IBCN, the other facilitating partners for the Loktak Waterbird Count are Unique Wildlife Protection Committee (Sekmaijin), Wildlife Explorers Manipur, Green Brigade Manipur, Pole Star Guardians Association (Thinungei), Global Science Club (Khoijuman), Sangai Trust Foundation (Keibul Lamjao), Karang Island Development Organization, and the Biodiversity Conservation Committee (Tangjeng Khunou).