A devastating forest fire in the reserve forests of Chail in Shimla a fortnight ago destroyed a significant amount of biodiversity, and severely damaged and erased the natural nesting sites and animal habitats.
No studies have been conducted on the impact of forest fires and flames on endangered bird species in this part of the mountains. Yet, it’s all about survival, regeneration and giving a sense of purpose to life.
Meet Raveena Chauhan, 23, a homegrown environmentalist at village Odli in Chail, who not only fought flames to save the forests and local habitations from being reduced to ashes but also ensured the safe birth of seven chicks, all born after the fires had destroyed their nests.
“After the fire was extinguished, I found eggs fallen on the ground. Seeing their burnt and semi-burnt nests was agonising. I saw a mother bird—A spotted Dove (Ghughuti) trying to salvage her nest to hatch the eggs. Another mother bird—which I had never spotted earlier, somehow disappeared after two-three days. I believe she must have become prey to some wild animals. I picked up these orphaned eggs and put them in a nest I had made from dry leaves and pine needles. The mother bird finally hatched the eggs,” Raveena Chauhan tells Outlook.
Meet Raveena Chauhan, 23, a homegrown environmentalist at village Odli in Chail, who not only fought flames to save the forests and local habitations from being reduced to ashes, but also ensured the safe birth of seven chicks, all born after the fires had destroyed their nests. pic.twitter.com/MFjpPVKngD— Outlook Magazine (@Outlookindia) May 15, 2022
The second bird's chicks saved are 'Blue Jay', said to be a highly endangered species
Major General (retd) Atul Kaushik, also a conservationist, informs that Chauhan personally kept tabs on the breeding and hatching process. “She monitored every single chick and saved them from wild animals and poachers. The chicks are growing well and have also got feathers. They may fly any moment and Chauhan's care and upbringing have proved valuable," he says.
Chauhan says that in the past as well she has saved young birdlings and kept them at her cattle shed for a few days till they grew wings and flew off. Chauhan, who holds a post-graduate degree in political science, currently works with an NGO—Pahari Samaj Paryavaran Kawach, where Major General Kaushik is the director.