07 April, 2007

Kaggaladu - Home to colourful birds

Residents of Kagaladu village near Sira town in Tumkur district conserve the painted storks which nest on the tamarind trees inside the village A group of young kids stand guard near the Painted Stork and Grey Heron nesting colony at Kaggaladu Village in Sira taluk of Tumkur District.


Kaggaladu is a small village in Tumkur district in south eastern part of Karnataka state. Since 1999, the villagers have been a welcome host for Painted Storks and Grey Herons, which annually breed on the trees inside the village and raise their young ones. The village was first made known to the outside world in 1999 by members of local NGO Wildlife Aware Nature Club (www.wanc.org). WANC has been monitoring the nesting colony and the wetlands used by these birds since then.








Painted storks nesting inside Kaggaladu, Sira Taluk, Tumkur District
Painted storks nesting on one of the many tamarind trees inside Kaggaladu

The birds nest and roost on tamarind and ficus trees. While there are nests of both the species on some trees, on majority of the trees only Painted storks breed. The nesting birds are joined by more Painted storks and Grey herons who arrive to roost. Grey Pelicans (Pelecanus philippensis) occassionally visit the village during the breeding season and roost on the trees in the village.



Ownership of trees: The five tamarind trees which are lying on either side of the Sira-Changavra main road belong to the state government. Three other tamarind trees and one ficus tree are privately owned.


Protection by the villagers: The villagers protect the birds seriously and take to task anyone who tries to harm them. According to the villagers, the Grey herons have been nesting here on a single tamarind tree since 1993. Their numbers increased in 1996, when a lone tree in the neighbouring Muddakanahalli, on which these birds were nesting, was disturbed by poachers and some birds were killed. The villagers are so interested in conserving the birds that, they have prevented the Government authorities from auctioning the tamarind harvest. They are not even harvesting the tamarind in the trees owned by them. While many of the villagers are interested in protecting the birds just because they look beautiful, a few believe them as harbingers of prosperity, hence their protection.

A painted stork, Kaggaladu, Sira, Tumkur
Feeding: It has been found that the birds use tanks lying within a radius of twenty kilometres from Kaggaladu like Kallambella tank. The birds feed their young ones with fish, crabs and even snakes, it has been observed.


Weather: Kaggaladu lies in the dry belt of eastern Karnataka. The average annual rainfall is approximately 600 mm. The maximum temperature in summer rises to above 40 Celsius. In winter the temperature may descend down to 15 C.

Other Wildlife: As the area lies in the plains of the Deccan Plateau, bordering Andhra Pradesh, the wildlife found here is related to the drier areas. WANC is compiling a detailed report of the flora and fauna found in the area. But notably a few herds of blackbuck roam around Kaggaladu and surrounding villages. Also some of the villagers claim to have sighted the Great Indian Bustard in the area, but this has not yet been confirmed.


Threats and protection measures:


1. Hunting: Considering the protection afforded to the birds by Kaggaladu villagers, there islittle threat to the birds in the village. The major and the only real problem is the hunting of these birds in their feeding tanks. In fact the problem of poaching of water birds has been recorded in Tumkur district by WANC during the Asian Waterfowl Census since 1991. After this nesting colony made news in the National and local press, many incidents of poaching in the tanks around Kaggaladu were reported. Immediately WANC met Mr.Narayan Swamy, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Tumkur division and Dr.Suresh K Mohammed, Superintendent of Police, Tumkur district. The officers took immediate action and many unlicensed guns around these tanks were seized. On the directions of the enthusiastic Police Chief, action was taken against some of the poachers. As an aftermath of this, the number of poaching incidents has come down. The highlighting in the press has turned out to be boon for the water birds of Sira taluk due to the decrease in poaching, as concerned officials and conservation orientedvillagers are maintaining a strict vigil.


2. Excessive tourism: The discovery of the nesting colony has been attracting many people from both far and near. But it has been observed that, rural people from surrounding villages visiting the area hardly cause any disturbance for they have very limited access to polluting vehicles or plastic. Urban tourists seem to pollute most, particularly by bringing in polluting vehicles and disposing plastic. To avoid this, at the request of WANC and villagers, the forest department has put up boards describing the do’s and don’ts.`No Parking’ and `No horn’ signs have been put up near the nesting trees. Other boards depicting Grey herons and Painted storks have also been put up. Village youth enforce the rules among visitors in order to prevent nuisance to birds. Painted storks nesting inside Kaggaladu, Sira Taluk, Tumkur District


3. Falling of young birds: Quite a number of young birds fall down during the breeding season. As observed, the usual reason for the falling down of young ones is due to the strong pre- monsoon winds and recently due to over nesting. On the initiation of WANC, the villagers have began to take care of the fallen birds. At the request of forest department, the veterinary doctor of neighbouring Gaudgere village is visiting Kaggaladu to treat the injured birds. Earlier, WANC used to buy fish for the villagers to feed the fallen birds. But a number of fish brought by the parent birds to feed their young ones fall on the ground. The villagers now collect these fish and feed it to the injured birds. If there is a short come, the villagers purchase the required quantity. The fisheries department has been approached to provide fish for the fallen birds.


Measures taken by the forest department: Painted storks at Kaggaladu, Sira Taluk, Tumkur District


1. Boards have been put up providing information on painted storks and grey herons, do’s and don’ts etc.


2. Separate parking zones have been created.


3. Species suitable for the birds to nest have been planted in and around the village.


4. The nesting trees have been fenced to prevent tourists and others from disturbing the birds. 5. A small concrete water pond to rehabilitate the fallen and injured birds has been constructed. 6. Vigil is being maintained on the water tanks and lakes used by the Kaggaladu nesting birds to prevent their poaching and disturbance.


Fact-file:


Location: Kaggaladu is located about 9 km to the north-west of Sira Town on the Sira-Chengavara Main Road.


Nearest international airport : Bangalore International Airport, Devanahalli 


Nearest rail: Tumkur 


What to eat? Carry own food or eat at Hotels in Sira Town. One good one is Hotel Kamath near Sira Town along National Highway 4 on Tumkur Road.


Where to stay: Tumkur City or better stay at Bangalore City and drive down.


Other attractions: Along the way one could stop over at-


Painted storks and water birds at Kaggaladu kere, Sira Taluk, Tumkur Districti) Kallambella wetland to see waterfowl.


ii) Historic Seebe temple at Seebe village.


iii) Historic mughal architecture at Sira Town.




The Sunsets over Kaggaladu Chikkakere which is used by many of these birds to feed.






Getting there: Since the Bangalore - Pune/Mumbai National Highway No: 4 passes through Sira Town, the best way to get there is to drive down from Bangalore city (about 3 hrs drive). Sira is about 50 km away from Tumkur City and about 120 km from Bangalore.


Driving directions:

1) Drive on the National Highway 4 towards Tumkur town.


2) 3.5 km after the Kyathasandra Highway toll gate and about 3 km before Tumkur City, the highway splits into Shimoga Road (which enters Tumkur City) and Sira Road (which bypasses Tumkur City).


3) Travel on the Sira Road / Tumkur Bypass and after the bypass ends continue towards Sira/ Hiriyur. (This is one of the best stretches of this highway in Karnataka!)


4) As you near Sira Town (after about 50 km from Tumkur) just before the highway turns north-west and by-passes Sira Town get off the highway and enter Sira Town (from one of the passages/ breaks in the road median).


5) In Sira, travel along the main road inside the town. Just after the Sira Bus-stand ask any one for the office of  Sira Circle Inspector of Police. You will be directed to drive from the bus stand to one of the circles leading out of the town. There, turn north (take a right) and go to the Sira Police offices complex (offices of Deputy Superintendent of Police, Sira Rural Sub-Division and Sira Circle Inspector of Police).


6) Just behind these Police Offices, the road turns west (take a left) towards Chengavara village. The road has been tarred recently for about 4 km, after which there are quite a few potholes.


7) Drive along the road and about 9 km from Sira, you see the heronry towards right in Kaggaladu village.


Moghul architecture at Sira town in Tumkur District
The historic Sira town is on the way to Kaggaladu heronry and visitors can stop to see some interesting architecture of the erstwhile Mughal Empire and Palegars (Chieftans). Above is the 17th century Jama Masjid. 



Important:

1. Please maintain a low profile and make sure you respect the locals.

2. Make sure you don't interrupt the local traffic when you park your vehicles

3. Leave nothing including disposable and non-disposable garbage.

4. Carry adequate supply of water, as this region of south India gets pretty hot and dry suring summer.

NOTE: I have included the above information to give visitors a general idea of the places. I request readers to make more detailed enquiries with the Tumkur district administration to know the exact road conditions and facilities for tourists.