The destruction of bamboo groves and the extensive sand mining is posing a serious threat to the heronry on the Kabani River at Panamaram. The heronry, located on a small islet is the largest breeding station of different species of herons in the Malabar region.

The bamboo groves on the islet have always been a haven for different species of birds. But ornithologists say that the gregarious bamboo blooming and the continuous illegal sand mining on the islet this year will destroy the heronry.

They said that the breeding activities might face tough competition next season or the birds have to find other sites for breeding owing to the blooming and eventual death of the bamboos.

“The number of heronries years in the district has dropped from thirty to seven in 30 years,” said C.K. Vishnudas, an ornithologist.

According to the annual heronry count of the Malabar Natural History Society (MNHS), the Panamaram heronry is the largest heronry in Malabar in terms of number and diversity of birds breeding there, Mr. Vishnudas said.

Many of the heronries in the district are facing the same fate owing to the massive destruction of bamboos after the gregarious blooming since 2006, he said.

The bamboo groves on the islet are a breeding haven for birds such as the pond heron ( Ardeola grayii), the night heron ( Nycticorax nycticorax), the purple heron ( Ardea purpurea) and also egrets, such as the little egret ( Egretta garzetta) , the White ibis ( Threskiornis aethiopica) the cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis) and the Median egret ( Ardea intermedia).The breeding of white ibises in the heronry was first reported in 2003 and the breeding of cattle egret was sighted recently, the breeding of the bird is reported in the state after 62 years.

Though many grievances have been given to conserve the heronry from threats, the authorities have yet to take actions, Mr. Vishnudas said.

K.K.Sunilkumar, Divisional Forest Officer, South Wayanad Division told The Hindu on Friday that it was difficult to conserve the heronry under the forest Acts as the islet was not declared as part of the forests in the district. The revenue authorities have not identified its location, as it is situated on the border of the forest divisions of South Wayanad and North Wayanad even though, the forest personnel frequently visit the site to for protection measures of the birds during breeding season, he added.

However, N. Prasanth, Sub collector Wayanad, assured that all the possible measures would be taken within two days to protect the largest heronry of Malabar region.