Efforts on to protect wetland eco-system

V.S. Palaniappan
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Census gives the baseline data for future management strategies

A spotted-billed pelican (Pelecanus philippensis) lands at the Singanallur tank in Coimbatore. - file Photo: K. Ananthan
A spotted-billed pelican (Pelecanus philippensis) lands at the Singanallur tank in Coimbatore. - file Photo: K. Ananthan

The recently-conducted Synchronised Census of Coimbatore Wetland Birds has come as a base line data for the Coimbatore Division of the Forest Department to evolve future management strategies.

The census was conducted in 13 of the total 17 wetlands in Coimbatore on January 12 by the volunteers of Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON). Chief Wildlife Warden of Tamil Nadu had directed that the census be conducted to ensure sustenance of wetlands to protect the birds and aquatic life, Divisional Forest Officer V. Thirunavukkarasu told The Hindu.

Once the wetlands are well-maintained and the birds and aquatic life are protected, the department can approach the National Wetland Authority to get these wetlands declared as Wetlands of National Importance. This will help in getting funds from Union Government to protect and develop them. SACON senior scientist P. Pramod said the centre had some statistics relating to wetland birds based on the census conducted on January 31, 2007 and again during the bird race conducted on December 19. The synchronised census now has given the baseline statistics for the Forest Department to plan its future management strategies after addressing the problems involved in protecting these wetlands besides developing them.

Existing records indicated that New Delhi and its surrounding areas supported 444 species, Mumbai 350 species, Pune 332 species and Bangalore supported 330 species. But unfortunately till date, no such data existed for Coimbatore. SACON study reported 114 species of birds from Singanallur lake. Though 17 wetlands were taken up for census, only statistics relating to 13 are considered for analysis, since the rest were small.

The enumerators spotted more than 5,930 birds belonging to over 90 species. Vellalur tank recorded the highest number of species and Kurichi recorded the lowest number. Mr. Pramod said that pelican population was on the rise. He sought measures to end the pollution of these tanks. The increasing destruction of vegetation around wetlands by human beings also need to be checked.

Mr. Thirunavukkarasu said 90 species of birds were recorded in total, of which 39 were wetland birds and 51 were wetland associated birds. Among water birds, 28 are resident and 11 are migratory species.



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