Nellapattu & Vedurapattu Villages

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 Location Ecosystem Type   Conservation Type   Area(hectare) Legal status 
 Doravarisatram Mandal, Nellore, Andhra Pradesh   Wetland Species Protection 458 Not Available

Case Study (2009)

Background

Nellapattu and Vedurupattu are two villages situated in Doravarisatram Mandal of Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh. They have one thing in common—since time immemorial these villages have played hosts to a diverse species of birds such as Asian open-billed stork, black-headed ibis, cranes and coromorants that visit these villages between the months of October and May for nesting.

These avian visitors avail of their food supply from the neighboring Pulicat lake and breed on the tamarind trees that are located in and around the fringes of Vedurupattu. Similarly the birds of Nelapattu reside on the bund, and breed on Barringtonia sp. trees that are located inside the village and in the tank area. They avail of their food supply from the tank as well as the Pulicat lake.

The villagers recall that these birds have been visiting their village for generations and that offering protection to these birds has been an old tradition. The villagers believe that the advent of the birds in their village is a good omen and a forecast for good monsoons. (Water scarcity for agricultural purposes is a crucial issue in this region.) The prime occupation of the villagers is agriculture and paddy is the main crop. The villagers also use bird droppings (guano) as a fertilizer to enrich their soils.

The villagers are very welcoming and warm-hearted towards the birds and even very young children are trained not to disturb or cause any harm to them. In the event of any accidental fall of the young ones from their nests, the village women nurture them and, if required, send them to the neighbouring Tirupati National Park for treatment. There have been instances of confrontation faced by the villagers with the neighbouring villages that have attempted poaching.

The villagers recall that these birds have been visiting their village for generations and that offering protection to these birds has been an old tradition. The villagers believe that the advent of the birds in their village is a good omen and a forecast for good monsoons. (Water scarcity for agricultural purposes is a crucial issue in this region.) The prime occupation of the villagers is agriculture and paddy is the main crop. The villagers also use bird droppings (guano) as a fertilizer to enrich their soils.

The villagers are very welcoming and warm-hearted towards the birds and even very young children are trained not to disturb or cause any harm to them. In the event of any accidental fall of the young ones from their nests, the village women nurture them and, if required, send them to the neighbouring Tirupati National Park for treatment. There have been instances of confrontation faced by the villagers with the neighbouring villages that have attempted poaching.

The Nellapattu tank was a traditional irrigation tank for the villagers. Besides the surrounding area was being used for grazing purposes by the villagers. In 1997 the forest department (FD) took over the protection of the Nellapattu tank by declaring it a sanctuary. The intention to declare the sanctuary was notified on 15 September 1997 wide notification G.O. Ms. No. 107 and the completion of procedure took a period of about two years. The area of the sanctuary is 4.58 sq. km. It is now one of the 11 protected areas in Andhra Pradesh. The government did not consider the utility of the tank for the villagers while declaring it a sanctuary. The people of Nelapattu were not aware of this decision taken by the government. Later on, with the help of a local NGO called CAMEL, the villagers came to know about the notification and immediately submitted their concerns to the Mandal revenue officers and forest officials. On declaration of the sanctuary, the entire tank area of Nellapattu was fenced off. The entry was restricted only to those visitors who would come for bird-watching within a specified time during the day. These restrictions imposed by the FD have caused many hardships to the local villagers.

Subsequently, Nellapattu village was selected as one of the eco-development sites under the World Bank-supported Andhra Pradesh Forestry project. As part of this scheme an eco-development committee was formed in the village by the FD. Due to the availability of funds from the scheme, borewells were also dug for a few beneficiaries, which could only be utilized by the well-to-do villagers. In addition, smokeless chullahs and solar cookers were also distributed to the members of the Eco-Development Committees.

The eco-development scheme, however, does not address the fundamental issue of people’s access to the tank and their traditional relationship with the birds. The activities prescribed in the plan for village development are neither conceived nor designed with the help of the villagers. In Nellapattu the villagers complain of no scope for development of fodder and fuel requirements of the villagers. The digging of borewells has not been able to meet the diverse requirements of water for crops, cattle and the other needs of the entire village. The cattle grazing issue has also not been dealt with in the eco-development scheme. If the cattle are caught within the fenced area, the concerned villager has to pay a fine. In circumstances like these, many villagers have been compelled to sell their cattle. The villagers argue that they were the ones who offered protection to the birds before the FD came into the picture, and now the needs of the birds have taken priority over theirs.

Nellapattu is a classic example of conservation authorities not understanding the local circumstances and social issues related to conservation. The villagers had been protecting the birds in Nellapattu for generations. This heronry had gained fame among bird-watchers much before it was declared a sanctuary. Due to the villagers’ efforts, the tank became a heronry and was declared a sanctuary. The sanctuary was declared without consulting or informing the villagers and this has strained the relationship between the people and the birds. The birds, which were once considered as harbingers of good fortune, are now considered to be a symbol of misfortune by the villagers. In the long run the apathy and indifference among the villagers caused by this situation is bound to threaten the security of the birds themselves.

  This case study has been compiled using information provided in S. Srinivas, ‘Village Bird Buddies 2001’, unpublished report (Hyderabad, APNGOs Committee, 2001).

Satya Srinivas,
AP NGOs Committee on JFM
3-4-142/6, Barkatpura
Hyderabad – 500027
Ph: 040-7564959/ 7563017
E-mail: [email protected]

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

Recent Updates

A Birder’s Paradise

An update about the Flamingo Festival that takes place here and a description of the Nellapattu Bird Sanctuary.

 

Related Information

Conservation of Nellapattu Bird Sanctuary: A Review

This is a study of the statistical relationship between the monsoon rainfal and the pelican migration in this area (2012)

Photo Gallery

If you wish to send us any pictures,  please email it to [email protected] and [email protected]

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