A study on the birds of Coimbatore forest division, nestled in between the ecologically rich and sensitive Nilgiris biosphere and Anamalais bio-reserve in the Western Ghats, has emphasised the need to conserve high priority sites for endemic, endangered and threatened birds in the division.
The study by the Coimbatore forest division of the state forest department, based on field surveys from 11 camps spread over five types of forests has revealed that a total of ten globally threatened, nine endemic birds found only in Western Ghats and six endangered species were spotted.
The bird species diversity was high in all the eleven sites and only a few species were absent between sites. The bird diversity was high in Narasipuram forest followed by Munukattai, Palamalai and Mylone Bungalow in Bolampatti and Periyanaickenpalayam ranges of the division. “These two ranges have to be considered for further long term studies,” says S Chandrasekaran, one of the lead investigators of the study.
In two days, the teams in the eleven camps recorded as many as 4,077 individual birds. The survey, which will act as a basic platform for further studies, has clearly indicated the need to conserve the high priority sites for endemic and threatened birds in the division, he says.
“Interestingly, 11% of the birds recorded were birds of prey or raptors, which is an excellent indicator of the healthy eco-system of the Coimbatore forests,” says Dr G Christopher, a field biologist and another lead investigator in the study. In Mulli region, home to dry, deciduous, riverine forests, all the three hornbills, the Great Indian, the Malabar Grey and Malabar pied hornbill, an endangered species, were spotted. This is a very good indicator of evergreen forests as the hornbills are quite sensitive and choose age-old trees to breed. The presence of hornbills means the forest has a good stock of old trees, he notes. Hornbills were spotted in Siruvani range of forests also.
Environmental NGOs like OSAI based in Coimbatore have been insisting on a special conservation status for Mulli area, along the Bhavani river, for long. “The forest department is focussing on eco-development activities involving the tribals in settlements for habitat conservation leading to species conservation,’’ says I Anwardeen, district forest officer, Coimbatore division.
TOI | FEB