Various species of birds live in what is known as “communal roosting”

Many people in Puducherry are not aware of the mangroves in Thengaithittu and how important these mangroves are in preserving the biodiversity of the area. However, the area of mangroves has not been studied in detail so far for its importance as a bird-roosting site.

The mangrove area in Thengaithittu covers around 100 acres, and was planted by the Forest Department to protect the coast.

Over the years, a number of birds started arriving in the area. However, there has been no real attempt to protect the area as it is not seen as an important area for birds, according to biodiversity research scholar from Pondicherry University Rajamanickam.

In the past few years, there has been a new trend emerging in the area. A number of species of birds are living here in harmony and exhibiting what is known as “communal roosting,” where several birds choose to roost together in the same area.

“A few researchers have recently taken up the issue and are applying for grants to study the area more extensively,” ornithologist and research scholar at the university R. Lekshmi said.

“Before 2011, there were not many birds in the area, but these birds seem to have chosen the Thengaithittu mangroves to roost. Many of these birds forage in Ousteri and Bahour. If the birds in the mangrove area are not protected, the numbers in Ousteri and Bahour will also fall,” she said.

This year, along with the Forest Department, a team conducted a bird survey and for the first time, they included the Thengaithittu area. Mainly oriental darters, which is a nearly-threatened species, lesser and larger cormorant, Indian Night Heron, small, large and intermediate egrets, Indian pond Heron and the black and Brahmini kites are seen in abundance here.

In recent years, however, the number of birds has come down based on surveys conducted. The situation should be rectified before it affects the Ousteri and Bahour wetlands as well, she said.

According to M. Selvamanigandan, an activist working on protection of the mangroves in Thengaithittu, there is very little being done to prevent the hunting of these species. Number of people come with crude weapons during weekends and take away many exotic birds, including Pambu Thara’ or oriental darters.

Since there is no signboard and no awareness, firecrackers are burst in the area and the birds are often disturbed. At present, there are birds, but unless something is done, the situation might drastically change, he said.

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