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.