About Kheechan Bird Sanctuary
News feeds today are filled with stories about the daily destruction of man acting against nature and against his own long-term interests. However, once in a while, there comes about a positive story where people work for the betterment of wildlife and nature, in the unlikeliest of places.
Communities in India such as the Bishnois and the Jains in Rajasthan aim to live in harmony with nature and has been their belief system since inception. Khichan, an unassuming village in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan, has a conservation story which started with one man Mr.Ratan Lal Maloo aka the Bird Man of Khichan who started off with feeding a small number of Pigeons, Sparrows, Peacocks and Palm Squirrels with grain as a family tradition, one day chanced upon a small number of migratory Demoiselle Cranes in the 1970’s.
Mr.Maloo had for the first time seen Demoiselle Cranes, around 70-80 in number, which visited the nearby salt pans and small natural lakes passing through Khichan on their migratory venture into India, and was fascinated by these foreign visitors.
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The cranes stayed till the end of winter, and left abruptly one day. They did return the following year at the onset of winter – doubling up in number! Demoiselle Cranes visit India from colder breeding grounds of high altitude Mongolia, North China and Tibet on their annual winter migration to India and Khichan is now their preferred home where they are welcomed after their long and grueling journey to prepare for the mating season whence they return.
Today, 12000 to 15000 Demoiselle Cranes visit Khichan every year due to the compounding effort of Mr.Maloo, the Jain Community of Khichan and now a worldwide support system to the cause – it has resulted in getting Khichan on the world map for its Demoiselle Crane congregation and spreading of the beautiful grassroots conservation success story which goes with it.
Mr.Ratan Lal Maloo is no more, however, the local people of Khichan led by Mr.Sevaram Mali continue his legacy selflessly, with lakhs of kilos of grains which are distributed to the thousands Cranes – a grand spectacle. It has been declared a Bird Sanctuary and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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