The Madayipara hillock, spread over 365 hectares, is an ecological niche of conservation importance and hence environmental activists and nature enthusiasts are pleased by the Kerala State Biodiversity Board’s (KSBB) move to declare the biodiversity-rich flat-topped hill, located 21 km north of the district headquarters here, as a Biodiversity Heritage Site (BHS).
Madayipara, the laterite hillock surrounded by the Kuppam, Ramapuram, and Peruvamba rivers and the Kavvayi backwaters adjacent to the sea, is set to be declared a BHS as the KSBB has initiated steps to make the proposal a reality under Section 7 of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002, which allows the government in consultation with the local bodies concerned to identify areas rich in biodiversity and cultural importance to declare them as BHS.
KSBB member secretary Dineshan Cheruvat told The Hindu that the local MLA T.V. Rajesh had shown keen interest in getting the hillock in Madayi panchayat declared as BHS. “When the area has been brought under the legal framework of the BHS, it will ensure legal protection against destructive activities, including waste dumping that will endanger the biodiversity of the protected area,” Dr. Cheruvat said adding that the BHS status would in no way serve as any restriction on interests of the traditional owners (Chirakkal Kovilakam Devaswom) and the conduct of rituals associated with a local ‘kavu’ there.
Variety of habitats
The comparatively barren laterite system of Madayipara, according to conservation experts, provides a variety of habitats for many animals and plants during the wet season (June to November) and the temporary pools formed during the wet season serve as bird refuges for migratory birds arriving from afar. Close to a local temple at Madayipara is a perennial lake having a total extent of 1.5 acres.
“A total of 657 species of plants were documented from Madayipara,” said Muhamed Jafer Palot of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), greeting the proposed declaration of the hillock as BHS.
Rich flora, fauna
Dr. Palot, who has studied the richness of flora and fauna of Madayipara, said that though the hillock represented less than 0.01 per cent of Kannur district, it harbours 58.75 per cent of the flora of the district. The fauna recorded from the area included 142 butterfly species, 186 bird species including 20 reported first time in the State, 60 species of odonates, 24 species of reptiles, and 19 species of amphibians, including rare and endangered ones.
The hillock is also associated with rituals and folklore. The 10-day Pooram festival at the kavu (sacred grove) is very popular in the region. The ‘joothakkulam’ (jew tank) on the hillock is a historical testimony to the Jewish inhabitation in the areas centuries ago.