15 May 2007

Bird Sanctuary

Happily great emphasis is nowadays being placed on the reforestation of Arunachala, however attention also needs to be focused on the great swathes of agricultural land surrounding the sacred Hill. As Arunachala was denuded of its natural vegetation, so too surrounding land was stripped of natural plant life in order to support intensive farming with crop cultivation of up to four times a year. Some of these farms have already been sold to property developers for densely packed housing estates, and undoubtedly this trend will escalate over the coming years.

In this respect there is a need to create and maintain sanctuaries around Arunachala providing safe haven for migratory birdlife and other wildlife, thereby adding to the rich diversity of life around the sacred Hill. During the rainy season, several natural reservoirs around Arunachala fill with water and attract a profusion of different types of migratory birds. Including; Cormorants, Egrets, Herons, Ibises, Spoonbills, Grebes, Pintails, Stilts, Teals, White Storks and Painted Storks. Further to this matter at a recent meeting of the Tiruvannamalai Development Board, presided over by the Honourable Justice Venkattasami, and District Collector Sathyabratha Sahoo, ideas were put forward in connection with creating a bird sanctuary at Samudram Erie.

In conjunction with other animal welfare programmes, Arunachala Grace Network is working to raise funding to purchase pristine agricultural land adjacent to Samudram Lake, and return it to its natural state providing sanctuary for migratory water birds in the rainy season, and in the rest of the year offer protected glades and nesting areas for such local birds as; Koels, Mynas, Barbets, Green Parrots and also other wildlife.

By the end of the year's rainy season, the 550 acre Samudram is completely submerged under water and has effectively been transformed into a lake. But over the months and coinciding with the beginning of summer, the water table dramatically recedes, until most of the Samudram area converts into nice, peaceful, undeveloped wasteland. It is during this period that goat and cow herders daily bring their flocks to graze on the rich shrubland.

It seems that groups dedicated to protecting migratory birds are also being set up in other places around Tamil Nadu. And one such group is working to restore Pallikaranai Marshland at Chennai. In this respect, it was announced yesterday that 3 male poachers are being held for killing birds in Pallikaranai Marshland

The men, belonging to the 'narikurava' (gypsy) community, apparently shot down the birds for a celebration in their community. A total of 57 birds, some of them rare and protected species, were allegedly shot before officials were able to apprehend the poachers who have now been remanded in custody.

In a recent posting I mentioned that a local Tiruvannamalai woman faced down a group of similar tribal hunters and confiscated their stash. The birds were later identified to be Siberian Cranes; a rare bird that had made a long and perilous journey from Siberia to spend warmer days here at Tiruvannamalai.

In previous times authorities would have ignored tribal and village poachers thereby allowing the hunting to continue. The important thing now, is that a start has been made and an increasingly larger number of people are focusing on the fact that its time to ‘PROTECT WILDLIFE’.

We have now introduced a PayPal facility on this Blog for the support of Arunachala Grace Network and its dedication to many aspects of animal welfare. In this respect we welcome help and support from friends of Arunachala and from friends of Nature so that together we may provide a safe haven for migratory birds and other wildlife and also address on every level the subject of animal welfare. For more information and details on how to help please use the email facility at the left hand side column of this Blog.

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