Films on Chilika Lake by Shekar Dattatri

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Asia’s largest brackish water lake and lagoon, Chilika, in the eastern Indian state of Odisha (formerly Orissa), was considered a dying wetland until the late 1990s. But thanks to scientific restoration by the Chilika Development Authority (CDA), it is once again a vibrant refuge for wildlife and a reliable source of livelihood for local communities.

In 2013, wildlife and conservation filmmaker, Shekar Dattatri, produced two films on the lake for CDA: ‘Chilika – Jewel of Odisha’, a 21-minute documentary … Read More

Pond Heron fatally entangled in fishing net

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We found this Indian Pond Heron or Paddybird (Ardeola grayii) fatally entangled in a plastic fishing net, at Hoskote kere (lake), rural Bangalore, on 28th December, 2013. I did not how to address the problem, and posted the picture on my Facebook page. Miraculously, someone on my timeline took up the issue with officials locally in Hoskote, and the farmers were told to remove the net. My friend went a few days later and confirmed that the net was indeed … Read More

Life between Net and Death in Chilika

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I was on a planned trip to Chilika’s Teen Muhana (Three River Mouths) with friends from Odisha, to watch migratory waterfowl of the great wetland. We started early in the morning from Mangalajodi on a hired boat. It was a lovely winter morning and the sun had gently warmed up the lake, where we witnessed large congregations of waterfowl.

Our first stop was at a very small island no.7 for 10 minutes. As we proceeded again towards Teen Muhana, … Read More

Spot-billed Pelicans on High Tension Cables, Pallikaranai

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The Spot-billed or Grey Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis) is a near threatened bird confined to India, Sri Lanka and Cambodia. Here they are seen perched on high voltage cables that run through the centre of the Pallikaranai marshes in Chennai.

These marshes support scores of bird species, such as jacanas, lapwings, warblers, moorhens, coots and dabchicks, in addition to pelicans.

Even though a major portion of the marshland was declared a reserve forest in 2007, most of it has … Read More

Chinese Pond Heron in Kelambakkam Lake, Chennai

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While birding on the morning of Saturday, 30th March 2013, I saw a Chinese Pond Heron (Ardeola bacchu), in full breeding plumage at Kelambakkam Lake, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. A lone bird was observed feeding on a small bund in the backwaters of the lake.

The Chinese Pond Heron looks almost identical to Indian Pond Heron and difficult to identify in non-breeding plumage. The size difference (Chinese is 8cm larger) is difficult to make out in the field. In … Read More

Greater Flamingo with sub-adult chick on its back, Dholpur

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This unusual image of a Greater Flamingo chick on the back of its mother (?) was taken by me on 22 January in Dholpur, Rajasthan, at the Hussain Sagar water body. The waterbody derives its name from Hussain Pur, a nearby village, and is fed by rain water. Even though there is anthropogenic disturbance at this site — buffaloes enter the water and people wash their clothes here everyday — a small group of Greater Flamingos have been at the … Read More

Growing City, Displaced Flamingos

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Kelambakkam is a brackish backwater lagoon situated near Chennai. The backwaters are heaven for waders, gulls, terns, pelicans, painted storks and cormorants. Greater flamingos have been spotted here regularly. During migration season, a lot of waders such as (Eurasian curlew, whimbrel, lesser and greater sand plovers, terns (little/gull billed/Caspian/whiskered), gulls, redshanks, greenshanks, stints, black winged stilts, pied avocets etc., are seen here. Kelambakkam is around 30 kms from Chennai city, and was pretty much undisturbed – until recently. Industrial and … Read More

Changing Landscapes

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Chennai is surrounded by a number of waterbodies. Kelambakkam backwaters, near Kovalam beach is home to a variety of birds that stop over on long migratory journeys. Some are local migrants like Painted Storks. Visitors from abroad include Flamingos, Western Reef Egrets and many species of Terns.

Storks like many birds wade in the shallows of the water bodies for catching fish and crabs, but the landscape around these water bodies is changing. With the city growing fast, an array … Read More

Followup Action on the Hunting Incident Near the Himayat Sagar Reservoir

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People often feel helpless in the face of conservation issues, as even if they possess the know-how and try to take action, they are likely to face dead ends and official stonewalling. Sometimes a louder, or just a second voice is needed. Sharing conservation issues on Conservation India and other such portals helps achieve this. Diya Banerjee, a wildlifer and animal activist based out of Hyderabad, happened to read this post about Hunting near the Himayat Sagar Reservoir on CI. … Read More

Chilika – A Shade Less Pink?

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In the winter of 2011-2012, I had the unique opportunity and privilege of being in Lake Chilika, Odisha, for a total of 40 days. While there were many resident and migrant birds to admire, Greater and Lesser flamingos, which used to be regular and abundant visitors to Nalabana Island inside Lake Chilika, were noticeably few. Population studies (done between 2001 and 2005 by scientists from the Bombay Natural History Society) show that around 5000 Greater Flamingos used to arrive until … Read More

Mugger Entangled in a Fishnet, Ranganthittu

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My friends and I visited the Ranganthittu Sanctuary, near Mysore, Karnataka, on the afternoon on July 6th. We noticed this mugger, lying on a rock in the river when we were taken for a boat ride in the sanctuary. It had a nylon fishing net and twigs stuck into its mouth, and seemed to be feeling uncomfortable. It was struggling to get rid of the net and twigs. When we tried to approach it to have a closer look, the … Read More

Painted Storks — Living with Trucks and JCBs, Pune

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Pune Municipal Corporation has undertaken the work of “restoring” the Pashan Lake in Pune. Lots of digging; new additions to the habitat are being made. I hope the flora & fauna present in and around the lake, benefit after the changes take place. Detailed information of the project is not yet available to me. This image shows the ‘Near Threatened’ Painted Storks with a truck carrying rocks in the background.… Read More

Q: In South Chennai, Pallikarnai Marsh is a beautiful wetland which has been home to over 100 species of birds resident & migratory, many small mammals, amphibians & fish species. Sadly the state government is not doing enough to protect this marsh which is now becomeing a wasteland dumping of the city’s garbage. Everyday this space is shrinking by all the buildings coming around. Whom do we need to approach to stop all this and can any PIL be filed against the State Government by an individual for the state’s negligence in protecting its wetland & the species.

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A: Over the last two decades, several individuals, NGOs and even government departments have tried to save the Pallikaranai marshes from destruction. But the pressure to find land for garbage dumping, housing and office space has meant that large portions of the marsh have been eaten away. What remains is highly polluted with the city’s toxic waste, sewage and garbage. As per a draft notification issued by the Government on April 9, 2007, about 317 hectares of the marsh was … Read More

Pallikaranai Report to High Court

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The Sai Nagar Residents Welfare Association and 98 others had filed a PIL in the High Court of Madras several years ago to prevent the destruction of the Pallikaranai marshes. The court then appointed a committee to look into the issue and provide a detailed report. The report is attached herewith and provides a detailed evaluation. However, you can file a Right to Information (RTI) petition to find out what action has been taken on the basis of the court … Read More

Magadi Tank — Reducing The Disturbance To Wintering Waterfowl

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Madagi, a small village which is an hour’s drive from Hubli in North Karnataka. Every winter thousands (5000+) of Bar-headed Geese (Anser indicus) and other migratory species like common teal, comb ducks, etc. come to this tank from Central Asia and Europe. This year (2012), 50+ tagged Bar-headed Geese were recorded in the area.

The lake is not protected and is open from all sides. Villagers use this lake for washing clothes, vehicles and other activities.

The forest … Read More