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This report presents the result of the 2009 survey of the bird fauna of the Travancore and Cochin areas in Kerala, India. It revisited the same 19 places that were originally surveyed by Dr. Sálim Ali 75 years earlier.
From the preface:
"In 1933, Dr. Sálim Ali, known as the ‘Bird- man of lndia’, was invited by the then Maharaja of Travancore to conduct a bird survey in Travancore and Cochin areas in Kerala, India. With the assistance of the Maharaja of Travancore and the logistic support of the Forest Department he conducted an extensive bird survey after setting up base camps at 19 places. He collected bird specimens and studied their behaviour and ecology as well. He published his observations in the Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society soon after the survey was over. Most of the findings pubiished by him were unknown to ornithological science till then. Based on these papers, he wrote the book Birds of Travancore and Cochin, which was published by the University of Keraia in 1953. After the state of Kerala came in to being in 1956 this book was augmented and updated by him including relevant information on north Kerala, and was published as Birds of Kerala. This book serves as the basic text of ornithoiogical literature regarding Kerala until this day.
In 2008, 75 years after Dr. Sálim All conducted his pioneering study, suggestions came from Sri J.C. Daniel, Honorary Secretary, Bombay Natural History Society and Dr. R.Sugathan, Sálim Ali Wild Wing Trust that it would be interesting if the same 19 places could be visited again and the present status of birds recorded. Dr. V.S. Vilayan, Chairman, Kerala State Biodiversity Board and several other ornithologists, many of whom were the students of Dr. Sálim Ali supported this idea.
Kerala Forest Department took up the cue and convened a meeting of senior ornithologists, birdwatchers and forest managers in Kerala and outside to discuss and formulate a project and to chalk out a plan of action. It was decided to follow the trail of Dr. SáIim Ali on the same dates on which he had surveyed each of the 19 sites. Kerala Forest Department decided to implement the project. A team of the best available field ornithologists and a botanist was constituted to carry out the survey. A scientific methodology which was standard and replicable after a period of time was adapted after consultation with experts in the field. All the necessary equipment was supplied by the Department to the team. The survey began on 2nd January 2009 and concluded on 31st December 2009. The progress of the survey was assessed periodically. The results of the Travancore-Cochin part of the survey were presented before the experts for discussions and suggestions. After the completion of the survey, a draft report was prepared and was circulated among the experts. The suggestions of the experts have been examined and incorporated in the final report.
An important and unique aspect of the survey was the open and transparent strategy adopted for it by the Forest Department and the survey team. Willing bird watchers and interested students were given chance to associate with the survey to give them an exposure to the field and to the expertise of the senior ornithologists. The team members had also interacted with the local communities and students to share the information and experience gathered during the survey. Very senior ornithologists like Dr. D.N. Mathew, a student of Dr. Sálim Ali himself had joined the survey periodically. This process resulted in ensuring transparency and in encouraging budding birders along with the scientific ornithological survey.
We are extremely happy and proud to present in this report, the findings of the survey team. Apart trom highlighting the changes in the avifauna and environment of south Kerala during the last 75 years, we hope that the data generated during the survey will serve as the benchmark of ornithological information for future studies. The Department will give due consideration to the recommendations in the survey report while deciding on our conservation strategies and action plans."