Atapaka sanctuary draws birds, visitors

A variety of avians from northern India, SE Asia visit Kolleru.

Vijayawada: The Atapaka bird sanctuary is drawing tourists in large numbers from Krishna district. With the forest department maintaining it perfectly, the birds migrating towards Kolleru area are seasonally settling here. Seeing the large number of birds is a visual treat to the visitors. During winter, different kinds of birds begin migrating from Northern India and also from South East Asian countries towards Kolleru lake. A large number of spot-billed pelicans roost at Kolleru Wildlife Sanctuary, particularly at a few locations like Atapaka, Madhavapuram, Kolletikota, Adavikolanu.

Pelicans visiting the sanctuary have been increasing continuously after Kolleru Operation in 2006. Spot-billed pelicans started arriving at Atapaka this season from October, 2017. They started nesting, laying eggs, hatching. This activity will continue till March, 2018 and thereafter, adult pelicans, along with the young ones, begin to migrate to native places. In 1970, the pelicans were extinct locally in Kolleru. However, with concerted efforts and increased protection, the status of the species changed from vulnerable to near threatened in IUCN Red List.

Apart from pelicans, large-whistling teals, spot-billed ducks, river terns, black-winged stilt, painted storks, glossy ibis, white ibis, many other bird species also Kolleru lake. The Kolleru Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over an area of 30855.20 hectares or 77,138 acres (308.55 sq. Km) within +5' contour of Kolleru lake. It was in 1946 that Kolleru lake has been identified as a pelicanry near Atapaka by K.K. Neelakantan.

DFO Saibabu said: “Kolleru lake receives input nutrients from 4 medium and more than 80 minor drains which is emptied through a single outlet, Upputeru, into the Bay of Bengal. This is the reason for high productivity of Kolleru lake and for making it a sustainable freshwater lake ecosystem harbouring microflora, hydrophytes, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, fishes and birds."

The number of birds the lake attracts shows the health of the freshwater ecosystem. Being one of the largest freshwater lake ecosystems, Kolleru Wildlife Sanctuary perpetually supports so many resident birds like cattle egrets, jacanas, open-billed stocks, different types of herons, kingfishers, bee-eaters, weaver birds, etc. Near Atapaka, there is an environment education centre established for imparting conservation education to the visitors. Boat ride facility has also been arranged to get a real-time experience of Pelican roosting. Development and maintenance of artificial perching stand at Atapaka is taken up to support the increasing pelican roosting activity. Children play areas and other visitor amenities have been developed.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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