Giving LIFE to Birds in Kaggaladu


Kaggaladu bird sanctuary
Birds at kaggaladu

Kaggaladu (Kaggalaadu) is another remote village which is privileged to have storks and pelicans come every year to settle their nests on trees in the village. Heard of rare birds coming to nestle amidst the noise and chaos of a village… where villagers take care of the hatchlings if they fall down from their nests… where children bring fish to feed them… Conventionally migratory birds such cranes, storks, herons, avoid human habitats and are protected by the forest authorities in bird sanctuaries. Similarly, Kaggaladu (Kaggalaadu) is another remote village which is privileged to have storks and pelicans come every year to settle their nests on trees in the village. Located in Tumkur district in south-eastern part of Karnataka state, Kaggaladu is not a notified bird sanctuary protected by the Karnataka Forest Department. Records show that rare migratory birds such as Painted Storks and Grey Herons have been nesting on the tamarind trees inside the village since 1999.

Kaggaladu village is a tiny gram panchayat located about 9 km to the north-west of Sira town on the Sira-Chengavara Main Road. It has approx 200-300 households and one primary school. The village has two lakes on the eastern and western sides. Rain-based food grain cultivation is the major occupation. Tamarind and Indian Banyan are the dominant tree species in the village. It is interesting to note that the birds only choose Tamarind trees to build nests.

kaggaladu bird sanctuary
LIFE Volunteers at kaggaladu bird sanctuary

Painted Stork, Grey Pelican and White Ibis are major species that arrive in Kaggaladu every winter to nurture their young. Unlike the other village adopted bird sanctuary, Kokrebellur, the Kaggaladu Bird Sanctuary has been a neglected one with limited conservation activities. The earliest efforts were made by Tumkur-based NGO Wildlife Aware Nature Club in early 2000s, who brought it to media spotlight and persuaded the forest dept. to declare it a bird sanctuary and display notice boards. But afterwards there has been no effort to preserve the water bodies and trees for enabling the birds to nest. In fact, the number of migratory birds coming to nest has dwindled every year.

Fortunately, a voluntary organization named LIFE-Bengaluru (Lets Integrate For Environment) has adopted the village and has begun conservation activities. The team happened to do a field visit to Kaggaladu in July 2008 and was surprised to see the lack of awareness among villagers about bird conservation. As the first intervention, LIFE team organized a tree planting activity and planted 50 tamarind trees. However, the lack of interest from villagers about this activity was disappointing.

LIFE NGO Bangalore
Recent conservation efforts at Kaggaladu

Subsequent visits in October 2009 gave a disheartening picture since most of the saplings planted by LIFE were destroyed. Only a few inside the school compound had survived. So the team decided it is better to work in close coordination with the school administration so that awareness levels among children can be built up in turn leading to better conservation of birds. Thankfully the children and teachers of the government primary school in Kaggaladu were enthusiastic about bird conservation, and became eager participants for LIFE-Bengaluru’s activities. The teachers were quite responsive and showed their interest in educational and awareness activities. One issue they highlighted was the lack of sanitation in the village and the need for health education among children and parents.

It was sad to note that only 50-55 birds arrived to nest this year instead of the usual 120-150 birds. Dwindling tree cover, receding water level in nearby lakes and lack of fish are contributing to the birds decline. The villagers’ gradual shift to cultivating paddy is a major concern. Kaggaladu is already a water stressed area so shifting to growing paddy is dangerous. These water intensive fields can run the lakes completely dry in the birds breeding season. Further cause for concern is the extensive use of pesticides and villagers’ attitude of negligence.

Hopefully, the intervention of LIFE-Bengaluru team, the enthusiasm of school children and raising awareness among villagers can be make things better for birds.

– Factfile –

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