Bringing back birds to Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary is now a priority for the Kerala Forest Department.

The department is working on a proposal to desilt the water body inside the sanctuary to improve the water flow and piscine population, which will go a long way in attracting the avian visitors.

Over the years, the number of birds reaching the sanctuary has considerably dropped. Earlier studies carried out by P.S. Easa and E.A. Jayson of the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI), Thrissur, had recorded the presence of 72 avian species in the sanctuary.

These days, only a few cormorants, bulbuls and robins can be spotted in this protected area.

A number of factors including the construction of high rises around the sanctuary, predator pressure and low availability of food may have deterred the birds, say forest officials.

V. Gopinath, Chief Wildlife Warden, Kerala, feels that low availability of food could be one of the factors deterring water birds from the sanctuary.

Heavy silting has almost levelled the water body. It has also affected the inflow of water and fish from the open waters to it. The water body will have to be desilted to a depth of at least two to three feet for ensuring exchange of water during tidal action and for the fish to come in, he says.

The department will soon convene a meeting of the Mangalavanam Advisory Committee and various stakeholders including environment groups, legislators and civic representatives of the city to discuss the proposal.

Discussions were also held with a few agencies which own land near the sanctuary. Railways and other agencies have offered support, he says.

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