[Video] Binoculars showed the way to this 23-year-old citizen scientist

  • As a young boy, Taukeer Alam of the Van Gujjar community was introduced to bird watching by researchers of the Nature Science Initiative. He has never looked back since then.
  • His understanding of the birds and nature enlarged since that fateful day when he hung a pair of binoculars around his neck.
  • In a video interview with Mongabay-India, Alam shares his excitements, learnings and desire to introduce other youngsters to the wonders of nature.

Uttarakhand has 656 bird species, among the highest in India as recorded on eBird, an online database where birders from around the world update their bird observations in real time. It’s not an easy task to be one of the top eBirders from the state.

Twenty three year old Taukeer Alam has made his way to fifth place in the state with 463 bird sightings. His journey has made him one of the most sought after birders in Uttarakhand.

Taukeer works as a field assistant to the researchers of the Nature Science Initiative (NSI), Dehradun (watch the video to know how he got the role!). He takes birdwatchers from all across India and the globe on bird watching tours in Uttarakhand and follows a daily ritual of at least 20 minutes of birdwatching, even if he’s not in the field.


Watch the video below.


As part of the forest-dwelling nomadic community of Vann Gujjars of Rajaji National Park, Taukeer always felt close to nature, but emphasised that he truly understood it due to the education he received after he and his family were relocated outside the park. His mentors and colleagues at NSI had a significant role in this education.

He strongly believes that it’s only through education and awareness in schools that the younger generation will be grateful towards nature and learn about conservation. As for Taukeer, who dropped out of school in the eighth grade, a pair of binoculars proved to be mightier than the pen.

Sitting on the porch of the NSI director Raman Kumar’s residence in Dehradun, with the calls of a common tailorbird, a koel and bulbuls as a background score, Mongabay-India spoke to Taukeer about his journey till now, collaring civets and hornbills and other episodes from his life in the field, the importance of being a citizen scientist and the role of environment education.


Banner image: Taukeer Alam. Photo by Kartik Chandramouli/ Mongabay.


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