Forest Department plans to add 28,000 hectares to Point Calimere sanctuary

The decision comes after a count of migratory birds in the swamp

The Forest Department has decided to approach Chemplast and the Department of Industry to hand over parts of the unsurveyed salt-pans and the swamp areas, measuring about 28,000 hectares, to be added to the Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary. The aim is to make it one of the best flamingoes’ and waders’ habitats in the world.

The decision was taken after Chief Wildlife Warden Shekhar Kumar Niraj visited the sanctuary on Saturday to record the migratory bird population in the swamp area. During the day-long estimation and monitoring, the teams of the Forest Department and the Bombay Natural History Society counted close to 10,000 birds near the Chemplast salt-pan near the Kalwakarai pump-house, west of the Great Vedaranyam Swamp.

“We observed the flamingoes from a distance of about 600 metres and monitored the Great Flamingos Wall formed by them in the swamp area. The most notable fact was the sighting of two chicks in one of the congregation of the flamingoes, indicating that flamingoes would be nesting and breeding somewhere closer and most probably in the Trincomalee or Mannar area of Sri Lanka in the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean,” Mr. Niraj said. Steps would be taken to put the sanctuary, including the unsurveyed swamp areas, on the global ecotourism map by adding high-quality facilities and conservation tools, he said.

Besides the flamingoes, the team, led by Mr. Niraj, listed major migratory species in large numbers such as painted storks, pelicans, curlew sandpipers, ringed plover, red-beaked Caspian tern, white ibis, wood sandpiper, seagulls, crested tern, stilt and redshank.

Some of these species have come all the way from Russia and the Arctic regions. The arrival of migratory birds has been phenomenal this season, giving rise to great conservation hopes, the team members said.

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