Episode 084 - Omkar Dharwadkar & Parag Rangnekar | Naturalists, Wildlife photographers, & Partners at Mrugaya Xpeditions
Mrugaya Xpeditions is a nature-based experiential tour company based out of Goa, India. Sign up for day trips, personalised excursions, and study tours to discover the myriad flora and fauna of the Western Ghats. See their website Follow them on Instagram Like their Facebook page Watch their YouTube channel Curated by knowledgeable and experienced naturalists, you can expect to encounter the rich biodiversity of the region. These low impact tours are managed with responsible tourism practices, involving local communities, and conservation efforts in mind. They also offer guided, small-group tours to birding hotspots across the country. Omkar Dharwadkar is a naturalist and wildlife photographer. He's the also the President and Founder Member of the Goa Bird Conservation Network (GBCN). Listen to his journey from growing up in Goa, and spending time alone in the forest, to now sharing his knowledge as a 'Bird Magnet' with discerning guests. Along with local filmmaker Kabir Naik, Omkar has been creating a video series on the wildlife of Goa. They have covered the monsoon, amphibians, odonates, butterflies, and camouflage in the state. Watch their videos to learn more about the native flora and fauna. Parag Rangnekar is a naturalist and wildlife photographer. He's also the Founder Member of the Goa Bird Conservation Network (GBCN). Parag has specific interest in dragonflies and butterflies. Listen to his journey from growing up in Goa, and spending his holidays exploring the forests of Amboli in Maharashtra, to now rejuvenating his ancestral house into a nature retreat, and offering a platform that showcases the region's natural wonders. Goa Bird Conservation Network (GBCN) is a non-profit society of birding enthusiasts in Goa. Join in for their monthly bird walks in the forests of Goa. See their website Like their Facebook page Aangan Village Stay is a homestay in Verlem,, set within the hinterland of Goa, India. Managed by the Verlem Eco Tourism Cooperative Society, you can immerse yourselves in the culture, cuisine, and community here. See their website Like their Facebook page Jungle Trails Homestay is a quaint accommodation located in Talde village, on the fringes of Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary in Goa, India. You can explore the surrounding forests and 14th century heritage sites on nature trails with expert local guides. See their website Like their Facebook page Mrugaya Nature Retreat is a bed & breakfast nestled amid the lush wilderness of Amboli, India. This eco-conscious accommodation features rustic interiors and offers three guestrooms with private sit-outs. You can head out on nature trails to spot birds, reptiles, and amphibians in the forests around. See their website Like their Facebook page Goa Bird Conservation Network (GBCN) is a non-profit society that promotes birding, and serves as an excellent resource documenting the various species of birds in Goa. See their website Like their Facebook page Join in for their bird walks that happen on the first Sunday of every month. GBCN conducts regular surveys and also organises events that help in bird conservation. ******* Also mentioned in this episode All Goa Water Bird Census - Amboli - Asian Water Bird Census - Beach Fashion Week - Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary - Birding - Bird Atlas - Dr Salim Ali - Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary - Dragonfly - Dragonflies South Asia - eBird - Fauna of Goa - First Nations - Foundation for Environment Research and Conservation - Goa Gap - Heinz Lainer - India Bird Conservation Network - Inle Lake - International Dark-Sky Association - Invertebrate Conservation and Information Network of Southeast Asia - Jim Corbett - Kenneth Anderson - Kerala Tourism - Limits of Acceptability - Mahabaleshwar -Matheran - Matoli - Meat Eater - Mineral Foundation of Goa - Moken - Naitik Jain - Nilesh Cabral - Nirmal Kulkarni - Quiet Parks International - Rahul Alvares - Responsible Tourism Collective - Savio Fonseca - Serendipity Arts Festival - Shivdas Dessai - Shraddha Rangnekar - Spirit Bear - Tambdi Surla - Uttrakhand birds - Velips - West Bengal birds - Western Ghats - WWF - Zoological Survey of India Timestamps for reference 03:25 Uniqueness of the Western Ghats 05:40 The Goa Gap 06:35 Documenting the natural history of Goa's Western Ghats 09:09 Heinz Leiner & Birds of Goa 13:07 Amphibians in Goa 14:48 Surveys about birds 19:28 Operations of GBCN 20:20 Monthly bird walks 21:39 Birding hotspots in Goa 22:21 Interest of birding in Goa from a tourism perspective 24:30 Possibility of spotting 150 species of birds in Goa over a three day trip 28:58 Infrastructure in natural spaces 32:56 Pricing and carrying capacity of natural destination 36:15 Community-based tourism as a double-edged sword, and Aangan project in Verle 44:03 Spirit Bear & First Nations 46:15 Jungle Trails Homestay 49:03 What's the intent behind Mrugaya Xpeditions 51:36 Story of Mrugaya 55:05 Hunting, foraging, and harvesting from forests 01:03:24 Different organizations that Omkar and Parag are part of 01:06:06 Making the best of the beach in Goa 01:07:29 Can Goa accommodate more small-group experiences responsibly? 01:12:55 Brand of destination Goa, and new approaches 01:17:49 Personal journeys and influences of Omkar and Parag 01:22:12 The Mollem issue 01:41:26 Government websites are so outdated in India, an IT hub 01:43:34 Goa Bird Festival ******* Show cover jingle courtesy of Icons8 Music by Nordgroove from Fugue Episode background tunes courtesy of YouTube Audio LibraryFirst Class by DJ Williams Song of Sadhana by Jesse Gallagher Sonic by Lish Grooves All photographs by Omkar Dharwadkar, Parag Rangnekar, and Mrugaya Xpeditions, unless otherwise stated.