Thousands of rare migratory birds, who were left homeless after the December 26 Tsunami ravaged their nesting waters in coastal Sri Lanka, are now flocking to the next best option, Ramanathapuram in Tamil Nadu.
The record entry of the rare birds in the area has left the bird watchers and conservationists of the area thrilled.
The entire Gulf of Mannar coast, considered amongst the world’s richest marine biological resources, is suddenly abuzz with the chatter of thousands of foreign visitors, who are nesting and feeding in the rich warn waters.
The extremely rare chestnut bittern duck, lesser black-backed gull, southern grey shrike, and the Indian Courser are being sighted in large numbers. Besides them the marine reserve has also had a huge 10000 flamingos as guest, their highest congregation in the region in a decade. “This particular tsunami has not caused any damage to the Gulf of Mannar coast as such but if you take the Sri Lankan waters, the eastern part of Sri Lanka where most the shore birds are actually inhabiting, are severely damaged. Because of the loss of habitat in Sri Lankan waters, most of the bird population which were dependent on Sri Lankan area now they are coming to nearby area which Ramanathapuram district, our Gulf of Mannar coast. So I think tsunami is the main reason for the receiving the birds in our area,” said V. Naganathan, Wildlife Warden of Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park.
Naganathan added that the region, nestled amidst a string of islands, has unique geographical advantage against such natural disasters and perfect for being developed into a safe haven for the birds, who having tested in once, thanks to the tsunami, are expected to return.
“Because of the three layered shelter provided in this area. The first layer protection was provided by the big island Sri Lanka, then our own islands, we have 21 small islands in our areas and then the coral reef area so this three layered protection actually saved us,” he said.
The Gulf of Mannar stretches from Rameshwaram to Tuticorin off southern Tamil Nadu coast. Home to some stunningly beautiful coral reefs it has some 21 islands, the closest just 500 metres from the shore, which support more than 3,000 species of wildlife.