Thursday, May 24, 2012

Point Calimere's Blackbucks Under Serious Threat


The Point Calimere Bird Sanctuary is known to be one of the best places for birdwatching in southern India, especially when migratory birds flock down from the Arctic. However, this avian paradise has come into spotlight for experiencing an increased salinity of water to the reduction in numbers of migratory bird species. In addition to that, the sanctuary's local blackbuck population is also under serious threat. Point Calimere is home to as many as 1,400 blackbucks, which are being threatened due to the scarcity of drinking water and reduction of grasslands. The situation turned worse when the sanctuary was badly hit by the tsunami of 2004. However, officials of the forest department had water tanks set up to provide water for the antelopes. Unfortunately, the supply of water also attracted stray cattle to the sources, leaving the blackbucks thirsty. According to a report by famed ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali, there are as many as 900 cattle (domestic, abandoned, and semi-feral) which graze in Point Calimere's open areas. It is said that the forest department's effort to ban the grazing of cattle by disallowing the issue of permits was met with stiff local resistance. Furthermore, Point Calimere is also under threat from pumping of seawater to the area by a private salt manufacturer to produce industrial salt.
Stray cattle in Point Calimere

I have a deep feeling that Point Calimere Bird Sanctuary is in a great need of help, regarding its wildlife. The sanctuary has been badly hit by increased water salinity, which is keeping away birds of all sorts. In addition to that, it is also being affected the salt industry and non-native invasion by stray cattle and horses. These issues are a clear indication that Point Calimere needs to be given a great deal of attention. As these threats continue to impact the wildlife, the sanctuary will remain unvisited thus affecting the tourist industry. Last year from December to January, the number of birds was very low. Also, the road connectivity was poor making the sanctuary not worth visiting. For this reason, it is extremely crucial to help Point Calimere regarding these issues. The locals need to be encouraged not to graze the cattle and horses in the sanctuary's areas, and move to better land outside its boundaries. Also, the issue of the impact from the salt industry needs to be handled in some way. Point Calimere was renowned for attracting migratory birds from far north, and is on the verge of becoming a wasteland. Therefore, decisive action needs to be taken by any means necessary.

Feral horses in Point Calimere
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