Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary: Renewed Calls for Buffer Zone

The Mangalavanam bird sanctuary urgently needs a buffer zone if it is to survive in the midst of a fast developing Kochi city, reiterated the Mangalavanam Samrakshana Samithi calling on the authorities to take heed.

A nesting ground for a variety of migratory birds, home to many types of mangroves and one of the few remaining stretches of greenery in the city, Mangalavanam is being choked from all sides year after year with hardly any care for the consequences.

Hibi Eden, local MLA and also the chairman of the Samithi, said that he would push for getting the buffer zone declared though there was no progress on the 2012 proposal by the State Department of Forests.

The proposal was to get government lands surrounding the bird sanctuary declared as the buffer zone.The Railways, the Bharat Petroleum Corporation and the Kerala State Housing Board have land close to the bird reserve.

Though a small patch of green, the sanctuary plays an important role in keeping Kochi’s air pollution under check and is a welcome respite from the concrete jungle all around.

Green lung of Kochi

Spread over about 2.74 hectares, Mangalavanam has been a roosting place for many kinds of resident and migratory birds. According to a survey conducted in 2006, 194 birds belonging to 32 species were recorded in the sanctuary bringing the total number of bird species recorded in the area to 72. Some of the birds regularly spotted in the sanctuary are common redshank, common greenshank, brahminy kite, white breasted waterhen and marsh sandpiper.

However, over the years, number of birds migrating to the place has declined considerably, said an official of the Department of Forests. Ornithologists blame the high-rise buildings in the nearby area, which are curtailing the movement of birds in the sanctuary. The buildings close to the sanctuary interrupt proper orientation, take-off and landings of the birds.

The sanctuary also houses a shallow tidal lake connected with Kochi backwaters, surrounded by thick mangrove vegetation. The lake is home to several fish species. Of the mangrove species here, acanthus ilicifoliusis is considered to be endangered and rhizophoramucranata is a vulnerable species. Mangalavanam also supports 17 species of butterfly and six species of mammals. Mammals such as flying-fox, painted bat, Eurasian otter, house rat and three-striped palm squirrel can be seen in the sanctuary.