Oussudu bird sanctuary to get a facelift

October 04, 2020 04:20 pm | Updated 04:20 pm IST - VILLUPURAM

A Grey-headed Swamp Hen foraging for food at the Oussudu bird sanctuary at Poothurai in Villupuram district on Sunday. The 'Wildlife Week' is celebrated every year between October 2 to 8.

A Grey-headed Swamp Hen foraging for food at the Oussudu bird sanctuary at Poothurai in Villupuram district on Sunday. The 'Wildlife Week' is celebrated every year between October 2 to 8.

With the migratory bird season all set to begin, the Tamil Nadu Forest Department has started upgradation of infrastructure at the Oussudu bird sanctuary in Poothurai to attract more visitors to the district’s primary eco-sensitive region.

Located between the Pulicat and Point Calimere wetlands, the Oussudu lake is identified as a wetland of national importance under the National Wetland Conservation Programme of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), and has also been declared as one of the 93 significant wetlands in Asia by the Asian Wetland Bureau.

The inter-state lake covers an expanse of 800 hectares, of which over 400 hectares lies in Villupuram district. The Forest Department has sent a proposal for developing the bird sanctuary to add value and ensure that it becomes a centre for learning about migratory birds.

“We have proposed basic infrastructural facilities including fencing around the lake, bird interpretation centre, watch towers and other protection activities at a cost of ₹2 crore.

The works will be taken up under a centrally sponsored scheme with a 60:40 split between Central and State funding. The works will begin after the government accords sanction,” said District Forest Officer Abhishek Tomar.

The bird interpretation centre will cater to wildlife enthusiasts, environmentalists, tourists and students. It would provide comprehensive information on the flora and fauna of the Oussudu lake especially migratory birds.

The department has also proposed nature and bird trails and wildlife enthusiasts and researchers can witness the birds in their natural habitat, Mr. Tomar said. The interpretation centre will also have exhibits on birds that show the path each migratory birds takes before stopping at the Oussudu lake.

Instances of poaching have also come down on the Villupuram side thanks to strict enforcement and the department has deployed five Anti-Poaching Watchers (APW) to prevent poaching of migratory birds, Mr. Tomar said.

According to K. Raman of Indigenous Biodiversity Foundation (IBF), a non-profit organisation, “As many as 66 species of birds belonging to 47 families were coming in large numbers and stay in the sanctuary for few months from October every year.” The critically endangered Spoon-billed sandpiper and endangered White-bellied sea eagle were also sighted, he said.

Flamingoes, Oriental Darter, Spot-billed pelican, Great White Pelican, Painted Stork, Eurasian Spoon Bill and Pallid Harrier are frequent visitors to the lake. Another regular is the Grey-breasted Prinia, while one of the species that arrives in flocks is the Common Coot.

Bird watching camps are organised here every year and the development of bird sanctuary is expected to boost the tourism potential here, Mr. Tomar said.

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