In 2010, after a gap of 40 years I returned to my native village in Thoothukudi district from Valparai where I worked in a tea plantation company. By this time I had lost contact with all my friends with a like-minded interest in wildlife and nature. I then came across a news item in 'The Hindu' requesting for volunteers for a wetland water bird census in Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi districts. I called the given number and they readily agreed to include me as a volunteer. I thus came to know about ACCC-ATREE and all the friendly people there. Since then I have been trying toread more about the wetlands in the two districts. After digging through the history of these tanks and making several field visits I found the whole area to be unique. Two check-dams were built across the river Tamiraparani in 1507 and 1873 by the kings of Madurai and the English rulers respectively. From 1507 onwards Kaliavoor dam has been feeding 31 irrigation tanks in Thoothukudi. In this stretch there are several large tanks of over 2000 a c r e s , n o t a b l e a m o n g t h e m a r e Thenkaraikulam, Vellurkulam, Srivaikundam, native plants. Afterwards they move to Thenkaraikulam, Perurkulam, Perungulam etc. The first quarter of the bird season is dominated by migratory birds and then by large wading birds like spot-billed pelican, painted storks, ibises and flamingos. Birds move from one tank to another and so regular monitoring is important. During the 2012 census, we saw fewer birds but in the second week of February I saw more migratory birds in all the ponds.
The first waterfowl census in 2011 also helped me to identify and know people with common interest in Thoothukudi. With ATREE's help we formed Pearl City Nature Society in 2011. This dedicated group has now become watch dog for all environmental issues in Thoothukudi. Regular field trips are arranged to increase the awareness among the students and public. I consider this as a major achievement by ATREE in aiding the public in wildlife protection and nature education in Thoothukudi. And such efforts are important as there are problems related to wildlife in this region. The uncontrolled growth of Ipomoea and water hyacinth are slowly destroying many ponds. Native reed beds are fast vanishing, turtle and bird poaching is rampant in all the tanks.
To protect any place proper documentation of the flora and fauna is important. All these tanks need urgent ecologically backed de-siltation and should abstain from diverting water for unsustainable developments and non-farming activities. Since all the tanks are managed by the PWD and village panchayats their participation is paramount in the protection of the wetlands along with the Forest Department and civil society.
Editor: Allwin Jesudasan
Associate editor: Rajkamal Goswami
Editorial Review: R. Ganesan, M. Soubadra Devy, T. Ganesh
Design and presentation: Kiran Salegame
Volume 6, Issue 1
A S H O K A T R U S T F O R R E S E A R C H I N E C O L O G Y A N D T H E E
N V I R O N M E N T
It is good to be back home
- Thomas Mathibalan
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