Environmentalists join hands in order to protect biodiversity: Saving four rare bird species in the Kanyakumari region inhabited by the Kani community – Tamil Nadu

Photos: courtesy S S Davidson & Asher Ringo © 2013 Tribal Foundation (Nagercoil)

B. Kolappan P. Oppili, The Hindu, NAGERCOIL, June 5, 2013

Species-specific recovery programme needed in Kanyakumari

The population of four bird species — Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Bronze-winged Jacana, Weaver bird and Bee-eater — is dwindling in Kanyakumari district due to threat to their habitat and reduction in food supply.

While the State government and district administration have stepped in to protect birds in general in the district — which is blessed with innumerable water bodies and a vast tracks of wetlands — forest department sources said it did not have any species-specific recovery programme.

The State government has announced the formation of the Suchindram and Theroor Birds Reserve, and has started fencing the Suchindram lake, one of the biggest water bodies in the district, and erected a watch tower. […]

“With the appointment of watchers, the incidents of poaching will come down,” he said.

But the four birds under threat are facing peculiar problems and extra care is required to replenish their numbers, feel environmentalists.

“Human interference and not poaching is posing a challenge to the jacanas’ existence. The district supplies lotus flowers and leaves to other places and regular plucking destroys nests of jacanas. Cattle feeding on water plants is also equally disastrous for the birds,” said S.S. Davidson, Environmental Consultant for Tribal Foundation, a group of environmental educators and Kani tribal people.

Jacana, known as mayil kaal kozhi (as it effortlessly walks on water plants), is a polyandrous species and builds floating nests on water. A female will mate with as many as four males and lay clutches of eggs for each one and leave it to the males to rear the chicks. A slight disturbance can prove fatal for the eggs and chicks in the nest.

Mr. Davidson attributed the reduction in the number of Bee-eaters to indiscriminate use of insecticides and pesticides. The birds perch on electric lines (thus earning the name kambi kuruvi) and frequently stoop to catch bees and dragonflies. “Heavy use of chemicals destroys the insects. Moreover, conversion of wetlands for housing purposes has also cut the food supply,” he said.

R.J. Ranjit Daniels of CareEarth, a Chennai-based biodiversity research organisation, said the decline in weaver bird population was noticed in the last 10 to 20 years. In his observation, lack of appropriate nesting sites is a major reason. […]

Source: Jacanas, Bee-eaters and Weaver birds face threat | The Hindu
Address : http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/jacanas-beeeaters-and-weaver-birds-face-threat/article4785177.ece?homepage=true
Date Visited: Wed Jun 05 2013 19:16:37 GMT+0200 (CEST)

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

Photos by : courtesy Asher Ringo © 2013 Tribal Foundation (Nagercoil)

Slideshow and report on wetland bird watching for students[Gallery not found]


A wetland bird watching program was conducted for the students of Holy Cross College, Nagercoil on February 23. The students were led by S S Davidson, environmental educator with his team of environmentalists, Samson Edward, Asher Ringo, Anandh Prasanth and Prof. Jenny Padua.

They were taken to the Suchindram-Theroor Wetland Bird Reserve in Kanyakumari at the land’s Southern tip in the Western Ghats tapering end, where they spotted many species of wetland birds as coot, cattle heron, median heron, larger heron, bronze winged jacana, pheasant tailed jacana, Indian moor hen, dabchick, spot billed duck, white ibis, purple moor hen, whistling ducks, painted stork, rosy pelican, grey pelican, swift, swallow, cormorant etc.

The importance of wetlands, relation of birds to wetlands, link between birds and human were explained to them. ‘Birds are natural pest controllers’, as they eat worms, harmful insects, larvae that destroy agricultural crops and are thus helpful to agriculturists and humans, pointed out S S Davidson, environmental educator. Apart from serving as a feeding ground for the birds, wetlands help to store water and contribute to underground recharge of water, he said.

Samson Edward explained the unique features of birds, as how they occupy an inevitable position in ecology. He motivated the students to sharpen their observation skill for better bird watching.

Ananth Prasanth explained the different species of birds, their behavioral pattern and habitats and special features of the birds.

About 50 girl students participated in the program with their college staff.

Source: message S.S. Davidson 9-6-13

The Suchindram-Theroor-Manakudy wetland reserve in the Land’s End – Kanyakumari in an article by P.S. Suresh Kumar, The Hindu, NAGERCOIL, 6-12-2012: Winged visitors arrive >>

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