While several of India’s natural ecosystems including forests are now ‘Protected Areas’ (PAs), there are many patches that fall outside PA-limits but also support wildlife. Meghalaya’s Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary and reserve forest are surrounded by community-managed forests and wooded betel leaf farms. A recent study by Wildlife Conservation Society-India found out how important these wooded areas are for birds.
The researchers studied how different groups (guilds) of birds — including nectar drinkers like sunbirds and insectivores such as drongos — use these two habitats and the different woodland vegetation found there. They find that areas outside the protected areas were used by all guilds of birds, suggesting that these areas maintained a functional bird community.