Kaggaladu Village

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 Location Ecosystem Type   Conservation Type   Area(hectare) Legal status 
 Tumkur, Karnataka Forest Species Protection Not Available Not Available

Case Study (2009)

Background

The tiny village of Kaggaladu is located 9 km to the north-west of Sira Town of Tumkur District, in Karnataka. This village is inhabited by about 500-600 people. Agriculture is the primary occupation of the villagers and they mainly grow ragi (finger millet), wheat and groundnuts. Another source of income is the sale of tamarind that grows on the trees in and around the village.

This village has undertaken effective conservation efforts for birds like painted storks and grey herons, which flock here in plenty for nesting purposes every year.

In 1999 this village experienced a strange happening. Hundreds of painted storks descended upon this village for nesting and breeding purposes. For about 9 years before this, these bright and colorful birds had only been spotted in ones and twos in paddy fields and by the lakeside. Since 1999 (barring in 2005, which was a drought year), these migratory birds have been returning to this village for nesting every year. Enthusiastic and strict protection to these birds is voluntarily offered by the villagers. Villagers have a warm bonding with these winged beauties and some believe that they are harbingers of rain and prosperity.

The villagers were initiated into conservation by a local farmer Shivappa, who first offered protection to the birds after learning that these avian visitors came from far off lands and were endangered species. The villagers tried to approach government officials for the protection of the birds but they did not get any positive response. They then decided to take up protection of the birds by themselves. An informal local body has been formed in the village for the protection of the birds, anyone in the village can be the member of this body and Shivappa continues to play an important role.

Most of the birds nest on tamarind trees, some of which are owned by the villagers while others are owned by the government. The tamarind harvest generates an annual income of Rs. 3,000 per tree. The tamarind harvest time coincides with the nesting period of the birds. The local gram panchayat has imposed a ban on the auctioning of tamarind fruits from all trees irrespective of their ownership. The implication of the rule is to create no hindrance for the birds and not to displace them from the trees. Rs. 3,000 per tree is paid by the forest department to the owners to compensate for the loss. In 1999, the state forest department sanctioned an amount of Rs. 10,000 to erect fences around the nine tamarind trees which were home to these birds. The villagers actively participate in protection including children who also protect and rear the young ones that fall from their nests accidentally either due to strong pre-monsoon winds or due to over-nesting.

In 1999, some members of Wildlife Aware Nature Club (WANC), a NGO based at Tumkur and working for conservation issues in Karnataka, got involved with the protection of the birds along with the villagers. These members lived in villages nearby. They submitted a request to the forest department, subsequent to which a veterinary doctor of the neighboring village Gaudgere, started paying regular visits to Kaggaladu for providing treatment to the injured birds.

The NGO started an orphanage for the fallen and injured birds. Initially, fish fallen from the beaks of feeding parent birds were used as a source of food for the injured young ones. However, increasingly that is not enough and fish has to be bought from the market to feed all birds in the orphanage. WANC then approached the fisheries department to provide fish for this purpose. 

Since protection is afforded by the villagers, there is little threat to the birds in the village. One of the major reasons that the birds roost in the village is the presence of a number of traditional irrigation tanks/wetlands within 20 km radius of the village. These include Kallambella tank, Handenahalli/ Lakshmisagar tank, Kaggaladu big tank and Hosur tank. These tanks provide easy availability of food for the birds.

The real threat to these birds comes when the birds are feeding at these tanks. In 1999, when the birds made news in the local papers, there was a rise in the number of poaching incidents at these tanks. Based on the information from WANC and the highlighting of this issue in the local news papers by WANC, action was initiated by the late M.N.Narayanaswamy, local deputy conservator of forests (DCF) and Suresh K Mohammad, Superintendent of Police to prevent such acts. A number of unlicensed guns were seized from the area. Meanwhile, a group of 30 village youths came together to form the Bannada Kokkre Rakshana Samithi (a committee to save the painted storks) for action against poachers. Since then, there have been some new incidents of poaching in 2007 at Lakshmisagara wetland and action needs to be taken again.

When the place made headlines in 1999, there was a big influx of tourists to see the birds. These urban tourists would bring polluting vehicles and plastics, which disturbed the environment of the village. Tourist activities have been controlled to a certain extent by display boards describing a set of ‘dos and donts’. These boards have been put up by the local forest department. The village youth ensure that the rules related to bird protection are enforced and birds are not disturbed. 

Over many generations Apatanis have evolved an intricate system of natural resource management. These include efficient forestry and agricultural skills. There is a strong sense of belonging even today because of the critical cultural, religious and biomass dependence on the ecosystem. Under the influence of modern education and changing socio-cultural scenario, some of the traditions seem to have weakened. However, the fact that the villagers have realised the damage such changes can bring about to their ecosystem and have initiated the village forest protection committees is a strong indication that community-based conservation can be a success in the area if the right conditions are provided. One such condition could be a positive wildlife conservation policy, which would take into account people’s participation in the management and protection of the ecosystem rather than alienating them by creating conflicts, such as creation of the sanctuary without their consent or information.

  This case study has been compiled based on information in Ahmed A. ‘Large nesting colony of Painted Storks and Grey Herons identified in Karnataka’, Newsletter for Birdwatchers, Vol. 39, No: 2, (Bangalore, Mar-April 1999). ‘Painted Storks make a beeline for K’taka village’ (The Indian Express, All India edition, 22 March, 1999). Information was further updated by Ameen Ahmed, Bangalore, in 2007. 

Ameen Ahmed
Wildlife Aware Nature Club
Ghouse Buildings,
Horpet Main Road
Tumkur 572 101
Tel: 0816 2271643
Cell: 98800 00973
Website: www.wanc.org
Email: [email protected], [email protected]

This case study was part of the Directory on Community Conserved Areas (2009), published by Kalpavriksh. The directory can be downloaded here.

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