Pulwama : In a heartwarming tale of unwavering dedication to nature and its winged inhabitants, Parvaiz Yusuf, a native of picturesque Lalpora village in Pampore Tehsil of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district, has documented around 677 bird species of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh in his debut book.
“The Birds of Jammu and Kashmir, including Ladakh," is not just a book; it's a testament to the power of passion, perseverance, and the indomitable human spirit”, Parvaiz said.
Parvaiz Yusuf recalls that he grew up alongside serene banks of Chatlam Wetland Reserve in Pampore, surrounded by beautiful saffron fields that define the region.
He narrated that he was captivated by the kaleidoscope of bird life that graced the area. While English names eluded him at the time, Yusuf was intimately familiar with the vernacular names of these magnificent creatures.
Years passed, and that childhood fascination blossomed into an unwavering passion for the avian wonders of Kashmir.
This ardor led Yusuf to pursue a core education in zoology at the Central University of Kashmir.
The turning point in this remarkable journey came when he was bestowed with a precious gift - a book about birds of the Indian sub-continent and a binocular from Nadeem Qadri, Director of Wetland Research Centre at WCF ( Wildlife Conservation Fund)
“These two gifts helped me to observe and study Kashmiri birds with scientific precision. In 2020, just before the world grappled with the challenges of COVID-19, I had the unique opportunity to participate in a month-long ornithology course under the Green Skill Development Programme of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India, in New Delhi,” Yusuf said, adding that the course was organized by Wular Conservation and Management Authority (WCMA) and GSDP-ENVIS, under leadership of Mudasir Mehmood Malik and Farooq Gillani.
It was during this journey that Malik bestowed yet another gift upon Yusuf, a binocular, inspiring him to delve even deeper into the world of avian wonders.
Throughout this journey, Yusuf was buoyed by unwavering support and encouragement of Dr. Lateef Khaliq at the Central University of Kashmir.
However, the spark that truly ignited his mission came during the 2022 one-week bird festival, jointly organized by Jammu and Kashmir Tourism, Sanctuary Nature Foundation, and Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).
"Volunteering for the event brought me face to face with a stark realization - there was no comprehensive book to introduce the rich bird diversity of Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh to the younger generation or to aid scholars, students, and teachers in learning about the region's avian treasures,” he said.
This realisation was the catalyst Yusuf needed, setting him on a year-long journey of intensive research and hard work.
The result is "The Birds of Jammu and Kashmir, including Ladakh" - a ground breaking book that meticulously documents 677 bird species found across these three regions, complete with region-wise distribution, over 2000 bird pictures contributed by birders from around the globe, and a wealth of knowledge encapsulated in over 60,000 words. This invaluable resource also shines a light on rare bird species and carefully documents birding sites region-wise.