Slideshow | Coastal wetland ecosystems: Eco-exposure and recovery programmes for the Kanyakumari region – Tamil Nadu

Freshwater Wetland Ecosystem
Flamingo photo exhibition
Painted stork nesting
Spot billed pelicans
Fish – prey base for birds
Eco-exposure programme

Wetland Ecosystem of Kanyakumari district, India

Kanyakumari is the strategic southern tip of India in the bio-hot spot of the Western Ghats, UNESCO Heritage Site and part of the Agasthiarmalai Reserve, which has a rich repository of coastal and fresh water wetlands.

While covering only 6% of the Earth’s surface, wetlands provide a disproportionately high number of ecosystem services, in addition to maintaining biodiversity.

Coastal wetlands are vital for helping to mitigate climate change to manage extreme weather events through the multiple services they provide. Important wetland functions include water storage, groundwater recharge, cyclone protection, flood mitigation, shoreline stabilization, erosion control, and retention of carbon, nutrients, sediments and pollutants.

Presently, wetland ecosystems are severely affected by impacts of climate change such as sea level rise, coral bleaching, hydrological effects, changes in water temperature and alterations in water availability and quality.

Coastal wetlands are nature-based defence that can provide critical protection against cyclone, storm surges.

Mangroves and salt marshes reduce the speed and height of storm surges. Their roots bind the shoreline, resist erosion by wind and waves, and augment resilience against climate change according to Ramsar Convention.

The coastal wetlands of Kanyakumari are critical habitats for local, local migratory and migratory avifauna species, where migratory birds as garganey, shoveller, pintail duck, wigeon, black tailed godwit, pacific golden plover, red shank, green shank and Caspian tern visit from August to December annually. Local birds as greater flamingo, spot billed duck, herons, black winged stilt, open billed stork, white ibis, black ibis, glossy ibis, spoon bill and pelican are found in the wetlands. Ground nesting birds as black winged stilt breed in it.

Considering the rich avifaunal biodiversity the Tamil Nadu Government has declared the Suchindrum-Theroor wetland Complex and the Manakudy Estuary areas as Bird Reserves. To view the birds and to boost eco-tourism, the Kanyakumari Division of the Forest Department has installed watch towers to view the birds by the public and to monitor the birds. Earth mounds have been raised at Theroor lake, Rajakkamangalam lake to enable the birds take rest after a meal. A visitor can see the birds sitting on the mounds and taking rest. Pelican, Open billed stork, white ibis, comorants, darter breed annually in the Suchindrum Wetlands. Two species of the polyandrous Jacana breed in the freshwater wetlands, which build floating nests on water, while painted stork and pelican make local migration to breed in Koonthankulam about 65 kms away.

Many ecologically and economically services are rendered by the wetlands. The Mangroves in Manakudy are a fertile area of fish including crabs, prawns and other inland fish and the fresh water wetlands provide livelihood to many people who earn their living with freshwater inland fish in wetland ponds and lakes. The faunal diversity and abundance of bird species provides immense potentialities for Eco-tourism and Bird Watching and potential areas for researchers for avifaunal study.

Some of the threatening factors to the wetlands are severe encroachment of the banks of the ponds and lakes, pollution by degradable and non-degradable substances, sound pollution created by heavy vehicles and constant traffic, use of chemical based soaps for washing purposes and bathing , illegal leasing of the ponds and lakes for lotus culture, using the wetlands as dump yards, conversion of paddy and agricultural wetlands into residential areas, excessive growth of exotic weeds and non-maintenance of wetlands.

To create awareness to students and the public, Davidson Sargunam, takes them to the wetlands for eco-exposure programs and participatory interactions. He conducts Flamingo Festival each year as part of the sensitization program in Manakudy coastal wetland and conducts photo exhibitions in schools, colleges and to the public on birds for eco-sensitization.

Source: e-mail Davidson Sargunam 22 November 2019

Species-specific recovery programme needed in Kanyakumari

The population of four bird species — Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Bronze-winged Jacana, Weaver bird and Bee-eater — is dwindling in Kanyakumari district due to threat to their habitat and reduction in food supply.

While the State government and district administration have stepped in to protect birds in general in the district — which is blessed with innumerable water bodies and a vast tracks of wetlands — forest department sources said it did not have any species-specific recovery programme.

The State government has announced the formation of the Suchindram and Theroor Birds Reserve, and has started fencing the Suchindram lake, one of the biggest water bodies in the district, and erected a watch tower. […]

“With the appointment of watchers, the incidents of poaching will come down,” he said.

But the four birds under threat are facing peculiar problems and extra care is required to replenish their numbers, feel environmentalists.

“Human interference and not poaching is posing a challenge to the jacanas’ existence. The district supplies lotus flowers and leaves to other places and regular plucking destroys nests of jacanas. Cattle feeding on water plants is also equally disastrous for the birds,” said S.S. Davidson, Environmental Consultant for Tribal Foundation, a group of environmental educators and Kani tribal people.

Jacana, known as mayil kaal kozhi (as it effortlessly walks on water plants), is a polyandrous species and builds floating nests on water. A female will mate with as many as four males and lay clutches of eggs for each one and leave it to the males to rear the chicks. A slight disturbance can prove fatal for the eggs and chicks in the nest.

Mr. Davidson attributed the reduction in the number of Bee-eaters to indiscriminate use of insecticides and pesticides. The birds perch on electric lines (thus earning the name kambi kuruvi) and frequently stoop to catch bees and dragonflies. “Heavy use of chemicals destroys the insects. Moreover, conversion of wetlands for housing purposes has also cut the food supply,” he said.

R.J. Ranjit Daniels of CareEarth, a Chennai-based biodiversity research organisation, said the decline in weaver bird population was noticed in the last 10 to 20 years. In his observation, lack of appropriate nesting sites is a major reason. […]

Source: Jacanas, Bee-eaters and Weaver birds face threat by B. Kolappan P. Oppili, The Hindu, June 5, 2013
Address :
Date visited: 11 December 2020


A wetland bird watching program was conducted for the students of Holy Cross College, Nagercoil on February 23. The students were led by S S Davidson, environmental educator with his team of environmentalists, Samson Edward, Asher Ringo, Anandh Prasanth and Prof. Jenny Padua.

They were taken to the Suchindram-Theroor Wetland Bird Reserve in Kanyakumari at the land’s Southern tip in the Western Ghats tapering end, where they spotted many species of wetland birds as coot, cattle heron, median heron, larger heron, bronze winged jacana, pheasant tailed jacana, Indian moor hen, dabchick, spot billed duck, white ibis, purple moor hen, whistling ducks, painted stork, rosy pelican, grey pelican, swift, swallow, cormorant etc.

The importance of wetlands, relation of birds to wetlands, link between birds and human were explained to them. ‘Birds are natural pest controllers’, as they eat worms, harmful insects, larvae that destroy agricultural crops and are thus helpful to agriculturists and humans, pointed out S S Davidson, environmental educator. Apart from serving as a feeding ground for the birds, wetlands help to store water and contribute to underground recharge of water, he said.

Samson Edward explained the unique features of birds, as how they occupy an inevitable position in ecology. He motivated the students to sharpen their observation skill for better bird watching.

Ananth Prasanth explained the different species of birds, their behavioral pattern and habitats and special features of the birds.

About 50 girl students participated in the program with their college staff.

Source: e-mail Davidson Sargunam 9-6-13

The Suchindram-Theroor-Manakudy wetland reserve in the Land’s End – Kanyakumari in an article by P.S. Suresh Kumar, The Hindu, NAGERCOIL, 6-12-2012: Winged visitors arrive >>

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

More posts contributed by Davidson Sargunam >>

EQUATIONS envisions a just and equitable world, where all people have the freedom and the right to determine their lives and future. | Learn more on the Equations website | Equations blog >>

We envision forms of tourism which are non-exploitative, where decision making is democratised, and access to and benefits of tourism are equitably distributed. EQUATIONS believes in the capacity of individuals and communities to actualise their potential for the well-being of society. We work toward justice, equity, people centred and movement centred activism, democratisation and dialogue.

Everyday we hear that tourism brings economic development, it creates jobs and revenues. But who really benefits from it? The local community, the village elite, or the owner?

There’s been an exponential increase in tourism in India over the last several decades, fueled by the growing economy and disposable incomes. The tourism industry in India has expanded wildly in an unregulated fashion with no regard for environmental, social and cultural impacts.

Research the above issues with the help of Shodhganga: A reservoir of theses from universities all over India, made available under Open Access >>

Related posts

Tips for using interactive maps

  1. toggle to normal view (from reader view) should the interactive map not be displayed by your tablet, smartphone or pc browser
  2. for details and hyperlinks click on the rectangular button (left on the map’s header)
  3. scroll and click on one of the markers for information of special interest
  4. explore India’s tribal cultural heritage with the help of another interactive map >>

About website administrator

Secretary of the foundation
This entry was posted in Biodiversity, Ecology and environment, Economy and development, Education and literacy, Figures, census and other statistics, Government of India, Mangrove, Names and communities, Nature and wildlife, Networking, Organizations, Photos and slideshows, Press snippets, Southern region – Southern Zonal Council, Western Ghats - tribal heritage & ecology and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.