Thursday, March 11, 2010
Mangalajodi: The fairy tale of metamorphosis
It was a land of hunters. You could have found gun in every hut of that poor men’s village. They used to wait eagerly for winter when thousands (sometimes lac) of birds visit from areas miles away. Those hunters didn’t have any spare time then. With country boat and loaded guns they used to travel across the vast wetland to rummage for birds. The bullets, fired from the gun with perfect precision rarely missed the target. Yes, poaching of migratory birds was the main source of income here even a few years back. The poachers could have earned even up to Rs. 25000 per month till 1997 when a magician came here. He, by virtue of his great magical skill made the hunters foresee their future. He made them realise, if poaching is not stopped, there would be no bird to fire at, after, say, 20 years, and there would be no income at all. On the contrary, if they protect the birds, if they could provide a better home to the birds, tourist will come for the years to come and earning opportunities will be widened by promoting tourism in the area. The job of that magician was not so easy. Though some were easily convinced, many were not at all ready to wash their hands because in 1997 income of Rs. 25000 was not a matter of joke. But the magician was a fighter too. He was not ready to escape. One day he became successful to hypnotise all of them. The initial turbulence is over, the dust settled down. The notorious poachers are now very important of the “Shree Shree Mahavir Pakshi Suraksha Samity” and re ready to protect the birds at any cost. They still patrol the wetland with country boats, but not to kill but to save. It is a story of metamorphosis, transformation to Ratnakar to Balmiki, the former poachers are vigilance guards.
Some of the readers have surely guessed which place and whom I am talking about. Yes, ‘The land of hunters’ is Mangalajodi and ‘The magician” is Mr. N.K.Bhujwal.
Mangalajodi Guide Map as painted on the walls of office of M.P.S.S
Mangalajodi is a small village in the Ganjam district of Orissa,, where vast wet land over an area of 300sq.km. provides wonderful homage to birds of almost 236 species most of which are migratory. Which includes Pintail, Northern Shoveller, Bar headed goose, Brahminy Ducks, etc. Not only that you can have a close observation to the nesting, breeding of some local wetland birds like Purple moorhen, Open billed stork, etc during monsoon.
Mangalajodi sky, covered with thousands of birds
Brahminy Duck(Ruddy Shelduck, Tadorna ferruginea)
Bar-headed Goose (Anser indicus)
When you reach Mangalajodi, the members of MPSS will give an one welcome and offer you a seat in there office. After fulfillment of formalities like payment for boat, they will guide you to the jetty from where the journey starts in a country boat and a guide equipped with books of Dr.Salim Ali. The water is so shallow that some times the bottom of the kisses the riverbed.
You have to make your way clear through the weeds. From the beginning of the journey Whiskered Tern will accompany you very closely. You can see common coot, purple moorhen, different types of herons and sandpipers, black tailed godwit, black winged stilt at every nook and corner of the wetland.
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Take off : Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Brown-headed Gull, (Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus)