ITANAGAR, Jan 31: The first-of-its-kind ‘birding meet’ kicked off today at Doimara village in the foothills of Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh bordering Assam.

Organised by APACETS, an NGO, with support from the State Tourism Department, the festival is aimed at bringing greater awareness about wildlife conservation in the area.

Taking part in the inaugural function, Minister of Environment and Forests Mama Natung said that the northeast region is the “lungs of the world” and Arunachal Pradesh plays a crucial role in providing clean air, thanks to its large forest cover.

He said the coexistence of nature and culture adds to the beauty of a place.

The minister said the State has a lot of potential not just in bird exploration but in many other areas as well.

He said that the State government is “always willing to cooperate in such efforts”.

Natung also complimented the Sherdukpen and Bugun communities for their conservation efforts. “My appeal to the communities is to continue the conservation work,” he said. He added that the State is undergoing changes under the leadership of Chief Minister Pema Khandu.

Adviser to the Tourism Department and Thrizino-Buragaon MLA Kumsi Sidisow said that it is important to maintain cordial relation between the communities apart from taking care of the environment.

Sidisow said that the State in general and the foothill areas adjoining Assam in particular have a lot of potential to harness tourism and must be promoted.

Former minister and chairman of the organising committee DK Thongdok said that it is important to maintain the balance of nature and relationship between the people who live in the area.

The opening day witnessed cultural performances by various ethnic groups like Sherdukpen, Bodo, Gurkha, Assamese, etc.

Known for Bugun Liocichla (a passerine bird species) that was discovered in 2006, the Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary is home to 455 species of birds. Bugun Liocichla has so far been found only in this sanctuary.