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| Last Updated:: 04/08/2017

Karnataka Forest department looking to develop two new bird sanctuaries











Mysuru: Ranganathuttu Bird Sanctuary writes itself on to the itinerary of more or less every other visitor to the old Mysuru region. The sanctuary, which draws winged guests from across the country, is immensely popular among locals and tourists alike. However, two other spots close to Ranganathittu - Gendehosalli and Devaraja Islands - that were meant to turn into tourist hotspots and havens for migratory birds failed to attain the level of popularity they were destined to. However, if the plans of the forest department are realized then these two spots lying downstream of Krishna Raja Sagar (KRS) Dam in Mysuru, could turn into homes for scores of avian species soon. 




While Gendehosalli Island is about 19km from Ranganathittu on the Srirangapatna-T Narasipura Road and not too far from the popular film shooting spot Mahadevapura, Devaraja Islands is 10km from Ranganathittu and close to Balamuri Falls. It was after observing that the environmental conditions in these two spots were favourable, including availability of food, for nesting of birds that the forest department decided to turn them into sanctuaries. 




Interestingly, the two islands had been declared bird sanctuaries as early as 1940, however lack of a concrete plan and poor implementation, resulted in their not being developed as such. A recent survey assessing the ecological conditions of Devaraja Islands conducted by a team led by researcher Praphul Gopal stated that, of the 465 conservation priority locations identified as Important Bird Areas (IBA) across India, 37 were located in India. Ranganathittu in Mandya is has been designated an IBA. 




Situated about 1.2km downstream of KRS, Devaraja Islands is a cluster of five small islets, and was notified to be part of Ranganathittu during the time of the Mahrajas in early 20th century. So named owing to its proximity to the famous Devaraja Katte, which acts as a barrier when water is released from KRS, Devaraja Islands boasts two big and three small islets. The inaccessibility of these islands help create a riverine wetland, and an important biome - large biological communities that are formed as a consequence of the climactic conditions. The islands are also home to the popular Yeddamuri Falls, which is a major draw among tourists. 




Deputy conservator of forests (wildlife) V Yedukondalu said, "We have surveyed Devaraja Islands, spread across 15 hectares and Gendehosalli, which is spread across 206 hectares. Devaraja Islands will be developed as a birds' sanctuary by February next year. 




While more than 120 species of birds can be found on the islands during peak season, the number recues to 60 in the off season, he added. "We've found a pack of 15 river otters on Devaraja Islands. Birds at Ranganathittu often come here for food. It is a very essential part of Ranganathuttu. Devaraja and Gendehosalli have vast channels of water, and plenty of fish," Yedukondalu said. 




Human activities such as dynamite fishing, swimming and illegal entry posed a threat to the flora and fauna of these islands, he said. "We are in the process of setting up an anti-poaching camp, and our staff will patrol the area once every week to remove fishing nets and dynamites that are found," Yedukondalu said. 




He added that the forest department would be spending nearly Rs 40 lakh on the project to construct check dams near Gendehosalli and Devaraja Islands to control the flow of water, and keep predators away from bird nests and eggs. 





Home to threatened species 





The islands have threatened or vulnerable species like the Darter, Oriental White Ibis, Greater Spotted Eagle, Spot billed Pelican. Destroying these lands would create a danger in survival of these species destroying their breeding and roosting sites. 




Important reptiles such as spectacled cobra, fish like Catla, Rohu, Striped Snakehead, Spotted Snakehead, Tank Goby, Deccan Masheer, Cauvery Garra, mammals like Smooth Coated Otters, around 60 varieties of Birds like Eurasian Coot, Little Grebe, Lesser Whistling Teal were found in the islands.







Source: TOI