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Bird conservation from obscurity to popularity: a case study of two bird species from Northeast India

  • Ambika AiyaduraiEmail author
  • Sayan Banerjee


This paper discusses how competing value systems of different interest groups, help the obscure and lesser known species to become a part of a global conservation project. We analyse two community-based conservation initiatives where two littleknown bird species Bugun liocichla (Liocichla bugunorum) and Amur falcon (Falco amurensis) have transformed the state of the landscape with a series of initiatives by Governments, NGOs and scientists. Bugun liocichla is found in only one location of Arunachal Pradesh and its population is currently as low as 14 individuals. Amur falcon is a migratory bird of prey that visits Nagaland in millions to roost for 2 months. This paper particularly, focuses on how the idea of conservation NGOs is introduced at the community level and how particular bird species gain popularity, locally and internationally. Using the notion of value, we examine how and why species gain specific value/s when the conservation projects are designed and implemented in community-based conservation projects in Northeast India. Based on ethnographic research, we have used semi-structured interviews and participant observation to gather information from key informants. We found that these bird species attain specific cultural, commercial and conservation values depending on various ecological, economic and social factors. In the process of conservation, the birds also become ‘development’ icons for the landscape. We argue that the two species have attained a ‘universal value’ attuned to the philosophies of global capitalist market and global conservation.


Birds Local communities NGOs Values Nature conservation Eco-tourism Northeast India 



This research was supported by a Social Science Research Council Transregional Research Junior Scholar Fellowship with funds provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. We are grateful to the contributions made by local community members of Singchung and Pangti; Divisional Forest Officer, Sheragaon Forest Division, Mr Milo Tasser; Dr Ramana Athreya; Dr Nandini Velho and Chief Wildlife Warden, Nagaland, Mr Satya Prakash Tripathi in our research. We thank Ms Sonam and Dr Vikrant Jain of Earth Sciences, IITGN for their help with preparing the map of our study area.

Author Contribution

AA conceived and designed the study. SB did the fieldwork and collected data. Both authors participated in data analysis and interpretation, contributed substantially to manuscript development and revisions.


The research was funded by the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) and was carried out with the support of IITGN (RES/SSRC/HSS/_0223/1718/0001).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All ethical protocols related to interviews and observation was approved by IITGN ethics board.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Humanities and Social SciencesIndian Institute of TechnologyGandhinagarIndia
  2. 2.Social Science Research Council (SSRC)New YorkUSA

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