INDORE: A young man, Ganpat Chouhan, who had once carried bows and arrow to hunt rare birds in jungles, is a changed person. He is now armed with a new weapon: a digital camera to save birds from falling prey to hunters. 

Ganpat, 25, who would not wince at killing birds immediately after seeing them till last year had a changing moment in his life. After a change of heart, one-time hunter has now become a protector of birds. A native of Ujjain district, Ganpat had earlier trapped and killed birds to earn money, which helped him even fund his education up to XII standard. 

Making use of extensive knowledge about bird, its species, habitat and behaviour, Ganpat is now busy documenting all local and migratory birds of the region. The involvement of Ganpat in conservation work has helped check hunting and poaching of birds in the region to a great extent. 

"Extinction of some species of birds and sharp decline in number of birds in our surroundings changed my heart and I began working for their protection so that our future generations can see rare species in times to come," said Ganpat, who hails from a family that is traditionally involved in hunting of birds. 

But it was not easy to stand against members of his community to begin with. "My family members and relatives were not happy at my decision as my work had started to affect their work (hunting & poaching of birds)," Ganpat said. I had to face threats and pressure, but got over it, he added. He claimed the menace is now curbed to a great extent. 

"Being a hunter for long, I can easily sense suspicious activities in forest areas and avoids using vehicles to ensure he can walk and keep close watch on movements of man," Ganpat said. 

Chief conservator of forest (CCF) PC Dubey said knowledge of Ganpat about birds and threats to avian population from human is helping the department in conservation. "We have given Ganpat a digital camera and other necessary equipment to keep an eye on birds and record every nugget of information that can be used for conservation purpose," Dubey said adding, Ganpat is preparing records of birds, behaviour and habitat.

Source: Times of India (Dated 02 Jan 2015)