DISTRICT PLUS

Creating more space for the birds

Around 800 tourists visit the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary every day to admire the flora and fauna and enjoy the boat ride

Around 800 tourists visit the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary every day to admire the flora and fauna and enjoy the boat ride  

The Forest Department, with an aim to provide more facilities to visitors as well as to provide some more space to birds, has decided to give a facelift to Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, a top tourist destination in Mandya district.

At least three lakh tourists from the country as well as overseas flock to the place see the birds every year.

Tourist inflow

As per the statistics available with the Forest Department, which is maintaining the sanctuary, 10.87 lakh tourists, including 46,049 foreigners, have enjoyed the scenic beauty of Ranaganathittu in the last four years. While 1,93,480 tourists came in 2008-09, the number increased to 2,97,544 in 2011-12. Around 800 visitors come every day.

The department has acquired 7.20 acres of land attached to Ranganathittu to expand the bird sanctuary. The department will plant saplings to attract birds in five acres of acquired land and construction of pathways and other developmental works will be taken up in the rest of the acquired land.

A variety of fruit-bearing trees and aromatic plants will be planted to attract butterflies, one of the officers at the Forest Department in Mysore told The Hindu .

As per the observations of the department, the mini-islets are overcrowded with birds. Due to lack of sufficient space in the islets, it is becoming increasingly difficult for birds for nesting and breeding activities. So, the department has decided to expand the sanctuary.

The plants will grow in five years but they will attract birds in the next three years.

The bird sanctuary on the Cauvery river basin is spread on an area of around 40 acres, and includes six islands.

It was declared as a bird sanctuary in 1940 after ornithologist Salim Ali noticed that the islets provided an ideal nesting ground for the birds.

The Forest Department has provided boating, canteen, parking, drinking water and toilet facilities to visitors. A watchtower and a walkway are also in place for the visitors to enjoy the scenic beauty of Ranganathittu as well as birds.

The Forest Department has currently arranged 10 top-covered boats with a seating capacity of 12 to take visitors around.

Flora and fauna

The mini islets are considered most suitable for birds to breed as they get plenty of food from the river. Painted Stork, Pelicans, Asian Open-billed Stork, Common Spoonbills, Indian shag, Woolly-necked Stork, Kingfisher, Black-headed Ibis, Herons, River Tern, Egrets, Lesser Whistling Duck, Oriental Darter, Great Stone Plover and Cormorant are some of the birds found here.

The islets are covered in broadleaf forests, with dominant species being Terminalia arjun (Arjun tree), bamboo groves, Pandanus, Eucalyptus and Acacia trees. The endemic lily Iphigenia mysorensis of the family Colchicaceae also grows in the islets.

Besides birds, the sanctuary also is a place for small mammals, including Bonnet Macaque, colonies of Flying Fox, Common Palm Civet, Indian Gray Mongoose and the monitor lizard, an officer at the bird sanctuary said.

Marsh Crocodile, also known as Mugger Crocodile, is a common inhabitant of the reed beds of the Cauvery across Ranganathittu. The sanctuary is also home to a large flock of Streak-throated Swallows.

Tender

The Forest Department has already prepared a master plan for the proposed expansion works.

The levelling of acquired land and landscaping will begin shortly.

Ranganathittu is located about 15 km from Mysore and 3 km from Srirangapatna on the busy Bangalore-Mysore State Highway.

M.T. Shiva Kumar



The Forest Dept. has acquired 7.20 acres of land at Ranganathittu to provide more space for nesting and breeding activities of birds



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