India hosts a huge number of species of flora and fauna. From forests to mountains, the landscape is highly diverse and several creatures survive in harmony with nature. Throughout the century, we have experienced an enormous change in our lifestyle, thanks to technology. And that does create a huge impact on nature and nature-dependant creatures. Though reserve forests, wildlife sanctuaries and water bodies are shrinking in size, there are a few places that still attract visitors. One such place is Koonthankulam bird sanctuary.
Photo by synspectrum
Location and landscape
Koonthankulam is a small village in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. The region is very hot during summer but experiences good rain from south-west monsoon. River Thamirabharani is the main source of water in the region and there are several lakes and ponds in the district. One such lake is Koonthankulam which attracts “foreigners who travel without passport!”
Bird migration is an interesting topic to study. Some species of birds fly enormous distances in search of suitable habitat, during certain seasons. Bird watching is an art and it creates an amazing feel which connects us with nature. Migrating birds travel unbelievable distances without getting lost. Their travel map is programmed in memory by inheritance or experience.
Their to and fro travel contains different routes, according to the direction of wind. It is interesting to note that, when birds migrate from North to South, they fly in clockwise direction. They tend to fly towards east until they reach south. And during their return journey, they tend to fly towards west until they reach north.
Most of the birds fly in flocks and this method is believed to save energy. Birds migrate mainly because of the climate or food availability in their native land. They land up in a foreign land, build nest, lay eggs, hatch, feed and return when their chicks are mature enough to fly back with them.
Villagers and “visitors of luck”
The Koonthankulam lake favours native and foreign birds to stay. This place was declared as a bird sanctuary in 1994. The village is around 500 years old and the people live a simple life. Most of the responsibilities of preserving the sanctuary are borne by the villagers. They have enforced strict rules and punishment for those who hurt the birds in any way. Diwali celebrations are silent with no-cracker rule, to prevent the birds from getting startled by sounds. For these people, birds are more than pets, and they consider these flyers as a symbol of luck and welcome them with love.
The sanctuary is widespread around an area of 1.29 sq. km approximately. Around one lakh migratory birds visit this place every year and stay for a while. They start coming by December and leave around June along with their offspring. Bird watchers have noted more than forty species of native as well as foreign birds. This list ranges from Siberian goose to Indian flamingo and more.
Drought and its impact
For the past few years, rainfall has significantly reduced and the lake is drying up quickly. The sanctuary is losing its beautiful guests gradually as the climatic conditions worsen. Though this is an excellent tourist spot for everyone, whether bird lovers or not, there is a notable decline in the number of visitors. As in case of every tourist attraction, this region warrants regular maintenance and extra care. Proper maintenance can bring back its past glory.
The reduced rainfall is also linked with negligence in taking care of water bodies and deforestation. It is high time to renovate such wonderful natural hotspots and welcome our colourful winged guests once again!