Panamaram heronry, the largest breeding ground of different species of herons in the Malabar region, is set to get a fresh lease of life, thanks to the intervention of the Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB) and the Panamaram grama panchayat.
The heronry, formed on a sandbank on the Panamaram river, is a breeding ground for nine species of waterbirds. “The tiny islet is a haven for globally threatened waterfowls, including the black headed-ibis, purple heron, large egret, median egret, little egret, pond heron, night heron, and little cormorant,” says ornithologist C.K. Vishnudas .
The site is also the only location in State where the cattle egret breeds, Mr. Vishnudas adds. A few years ago birds like lesser whistling duck, jacanas, and moore bred on the wetlands near the site. However, human intervention has left a negative impact on the avian habitat, he added.
Former District Collector Kesavendrakumar and Sub-Collector Sambasiva Rao tried to declare the heronry a bird reserve nearly eight years ago to conserve the avian population. The project did not materialise owing to the alleged apathy of a few former members of the Panamaram grama panchayat.
Now, the newly elected members of the civic body have joined hands with the KSBB to conserve the heronry after realising the significance of the fragile ecosystem. “We are planning to set up a watch tower with binoculars on the opposite bank of the site to watch the bids and plant saplings of bamboo and vetiver to stop the erosion of the sandbanks during monsoon at a cost of ₹6 lakh,” Thomas Parakkalayil, vice president, Panamaram grama panchayat told The Hindu.
The KSBB granted a sum of ₹3 lakh for the conservation activities and the remaining amount would be met by the civic body, he said. The construction activities would be completed by December-end and billboards on the avian population of the site would be erected on both sides of the road to the site, P.R. Sreeraj, district coordinator, the KSBB said. “We are also planning to make it a a biodiversity heritage site in the near future,” he added.