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Ranganathittu gets a new look

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Alluring: Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary attracts birds and tourists from distant places.
Alluring: Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary attracts birds and tourists from distant places.

R. Krishna Kumar

Salim Ali Interpretation Centre will screen documentaries

About 40 to 50 pelicans have made Ranganathittu their home, says Range Forest Officer

Wasteland adjoining the sanctuary has been acquired and developed by the Forest Department

Mysore: The famed Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary near Srirangapatana has received a facelift with a slew of new facilities for the benefit of the winged visitors as also the tourists.

As a result, there is a perceptible increase in the number of birds and tourists visiting the riverine islets that constitute the sanctuary and has brought cheers to the bird lovers as also the officials.

The frequent floods during monsoon had damaged the islets and three of the seven islets had been completely destroyed. The islets were bereft of soil and vegetation which had been washed away due to the floods and there were only natural rock surface which did not provide adequate camouflage for the birds to roost.

However, the forest department took up an initiative to re-do the islet by way of adding tonnes of soil and planted saplings which has flowered to provide the winged beauties the much-needed canopy. “Three of the seven islets had been destroyed and we spent Rs. 15 lakh for their development by filling up the place with soil and planting saplings,” according to Range Forest Officer Shivashankar, who is in-charge of the bird sanctuary.

He told The Hindu that besides developing the islets, they re-did the entire landscaping, created a new rock garden to enhance the aesthetics of the bird sanctuary, which has a new look compared to the earlier jaded appearance.

A large wall constructed to prevent flooding of the sanctuary marred the beauty of the sanctuary but the authorities camouflaged it with vegetation and created landscape garden in the foreground which added to the beauty of the bird sanctuary. In addition, some wasteland adjoining the sanctuary areas was also acquired by the Forest Department and has developed it, said Mr. Shivashankar.

The Salim Ali Interpretation Centre — named after the famous ornithologist who first suggested that Ranganathittu be declared a bird sanctuary during his visit to Mysore for a bird survey in the early 1900 — is now fully functional and a 45-minute documentary on the bird sanctuary will be screened regularly for interested tourists and special interest groups, Mr. Shivashankar added.

The net impact of the beautification drive is a perceptible increase in the number of birds and more importantly even the pelicans, which never used to nestle or roost at Ranganathittu, have made it their home for the last few months. “About 40 to 50 pelicans have made Ranganathittu their home”, said Mr. Shivashankar.

Ranganathittu was declared as a bird sanctuary in 1940 by the Mysore Maharaja at the behest of Salim Ali and the seven islets that constitute the sanctuary is spread over 0.67 sq. km only.

Yet the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is thriving with bird life ranging from the Indian peafowl to brown-headed barbet, crimson-breasted barbet to small blue kingfisher.

Over 1.9 lakh tourists visited the sanctuary during 2008-09 and more than 17,000 tourists visited Ranganathittu during April 2009 alone.

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