Dr Salim Ali sanctuary attracts tourists

PTI, PANAJI | 16 March 2010 14:52 IST

All kind of visitors are showing keen interest in India’s one of the smallest wetland near Panaji, a sanctuary named after world renowned ornithologist, Dr Salim Ali.

While the recent bird census vouch for manifold rise in the winged visitors (birds) here, the forest department also has around 3,000 bird enthusiasts, researchers and forestry learners visiting this sanctuary enveloped with mangroves and tucked across the mandovi river.  

"In 2001, we had hardly 12 tourists here. Now around 10 people drop in every day to watch birds or visit the sanctuary," Range forest officer Amar Heblekar told PTI.

A boat ride along the periphery of the sanctuary and specially built watch tower overlooking canopy of mangroves provides much needed assistant for the visitors to learn more about this sanctuary.

The forest officers state that the common migratory birds as well as resident birds including red shank, pied kingfisher, pintail, Brahminy kite, heron, egrets and Adjutant stork have their presence of canopies, bushes and the wetland created due to tidal moments in the sanctuary.

The recent bird census had confirmed 106 varieties of winged visitors thronging here. The migratory birds fly from places like Siberia for three months - December, January and February.

This marshy wetland has been attracting highest number of northern pintails. "We had found 5,000 Northern Pintails during the recent census," Heblekar said.

Glossy Ibis varieties of birds are newfangled guests here, who made their presence in the recent records of forest department when they conducted the census along with the volunteers.

The pathway on the marshy land also houses a small shed. It is aptly named as a research shed by the department. For those, who might not be ornithologists or forestry students or avid bird watchers, the huge pictures evince immense interest in the rich eco system within the sanctuary.

"This is a small nursery of fishes. The vegetation within the mangroves provides place for the small fishes like prawns to grow. Once they move out of this eco system, they are eaten by big fishes," Heblekar explained.

The forest department is well aware that migratory birds disappear after three months and local birds may not continue attracting interests. It has now decided to harp on uniqueness of the sanctuary.

"Fourteen species of mangroves are found in this sanctuary. It is dominated by Rhizophora, avicennia, sonneratia and others," Heblekar said.

The variety of mangrove where plant is grown on the plant and is once its mature is dropped in the water has aroused curiosity of visitors. The department officials also vouch for crocodile sightings here, which is unique as these creatures don't survive in saline water.

"Crocodiles are not okay with saline water and they die off. But somehow, we have sighted crocodiles in the sanctuary," he said

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Attracting tourists is OK, but it should be made sure that the places are not too frequented by the tourists specially the Russians. Once these unspoiled places become over crowded with tourists then the peace and tranquility will disappear and even the birds and animals will shy away and these lovely mangroves will become stinking places because along with the tourists other domestic tourists such as the pan eating fellws will turn the whole area into dirt ground and red splash painting. So save these places by putting up charges or a fee for each visit to safeguard the sanctuaries- Menino (Valpoi)

- Menino G. P. T. Fernandes (Valpoi/UK), United Kingdom of Great Britain | 16 th March 2010 15:15


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