Hornbill aficionados crowd Nelliyampathy

Scant regard for sensitivity of the birds that throng the hill station for mating

Updated - November 06, 2020 10:00 am IST

Published - November 05, 2020 11:08 pm IST - PALAKKAD

 A pair of Great Hornbills spotted at Nelliyampathy in Palakkad. Dozens throng the hill station for mating soon after the monsoon season.

A pair of Great Hornbills spotted at Nelliyampathy in Palakkad. Dozens throng the hill station for mating soon after the monsoon season.

Nelliyampathy, one of the popular tourist spots in the district, has begun to witness an influx of birdwatchers and wildlife photographers as the mating season of Kerala’s State bird Great Hornbill began.

Social media have helped people get to know the presence of the majestic hornbills in large numbers. But people reaching the hill station appear to care less for the sensitivity of the birds that prefer to perch atop large trees.

Carrying large telescopic lenses, binoculars, tripods and monopods, wildlife aficionados have been thronging the areas such as Victoria, where the hornbills swarm in Nelliyampathy. When most have been reaching the spot with friends sharing the same passion, there have been others with family as well.

“We have had an eyeful of the large beautiful birds with their wings spread out. It was an amazing sight to watch. It’s rare too,” said Nazeema Jaffer, a social worker from Palakkad who visited Nelliyampathy with her family.

As Ms. Nazeema and her folks stood watching the hornbills with admiration, a large number of shutterbugs were jostling at different corners for a perfect and timely click.

Disturbing peace

“It’s never good for these birds which are extremely sensitive to human presence. Such crowding of people can harm the tranquillity that these giant birds seek out in a place such as Nelliyampathy,” said Ali Malappuram, a wildlife photographer.

According to Mr. Ali, it will be better if each photographer assumed it on themselves the responsibility of respecting the aloofness that the hornbills prefer.

Nemmara divisional forest officer C.P. Aneesh, under whose jurisdiction Nelliyampathy falls, said that there was nothing much they could do as long as the people did not trespass into the forest.

But many trespassed while in pursuit of their remote targets perched on treetops. Mahesh N., a tribal youth who guided the lensmen, had a tough time convincing them not to enter the forestland. “Some people care little for my warnings. Some even threw their waste in here. I had to collect them and dispose of them in a proper place,” Mr. Mahesh told The Hindu.

Last weekend witnessed the heaviest crowd of bird lovers in Nelliyampathy. Forest officials said more than 2,500 vehicles, mostly bikes, had climbed the hill last week. A huge turnout is expected this weekend too at Nelliyamapthy.

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