Kerala

Kadalundi’s unique ecology faces a threat

Mangroves in the Kadalundi estuary.  

The lockdown necessitated by COVID-19 pandemic is found to have had an adverse effect on the sensitive mangrove-mudflat ecology of Kadalundi Vallikkunnu Community Reserve (KVCR), one of the prime wintering destinations along the west coast of India for birds from cold climes.

Researchers studying the estuarine ecology of Kadalundi vis-à-vis the mudflats that attract migrant birds from far regions and the mangroves that offer KVCR a unique place in the map of conservation have found that waste dumping increased to an unexpected level during the lockdown at Kadalundi.

Unparalleled incursion

“We all expected that the lockdown that began in March would help the sensitive ecology of Kadalundi to refresh and boost. But to our surprise, we find an unparalleled incursion of mangroves into the mudflats. An increase in the arrival of waste, particularly poultry waste, during the lockdown months has been the main reason for this proliferation,” said T.R. Athira, one of the researchers working at Kadalundi.

She has found that the quality of sediment in the estuary changed in the past eight months.

According to her, the poultry and slaughter waste easily get stuck in areas surrounded by mangroves, and they help speed up the proliferation.

However, Ms. Athira said that the amount of impact the mangrove incursion would have on the arrival of birds for wintering at Kadalundi should be studied separately.

C.T. Shifa, another researcher who works at Kadalundi, said that the coming months would be crucial for their studies as the wintering season has just begun for migrant birds. Ms. Shifa, who specialises on kingfisher, said that the presence of Black-capped kingfisher, a local migrant, was a positive sign.

Both of them are guided by K.M. Aarif, whose studies on shorebirds of Kadalundi have made seminal contributions to information on Central Asian Flyway, one of the least studied and ecologically sensitive flyways in the world.

Currently working on the east coast of Saudi Arabia, another critical wintering ground like Kadalundi, Dr. Aarif told The Hindu that efforts should be made to maintain the unique ecology of Kadalundi.

Separate ecologies

“Mudflats and mangroves are two separate ecologies. It is this unique combination of ecologies that gives Kadalundi its charm. One should not be allowed make incursions into another,” said Dr. Aarif.

Birds have begun to reach Kadalundi.

Ms. Athira and Ms. Shifa said that plovers were the early visitors. Lesser sand plover, Greater sand plover, Kentish plover, Common redshank, Common greenshank, Common sandpiper, Whimbrel, Marsh sandpiper, and Broadbilled sandpiper were some of the species that reached Kadalundi in the early weeks of wintering. Terns and gulls, which are larger birds, are expected when the wintering peaks in December and January.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 10:15:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/kadalundis-unique-ecology-faces-a-threat/article33207628.ece

Next Story