13 Mar, 2017
A five day exposure visit was organised by GIZ and the Mangrove Cell Maharashtra for its officers and staff involved in the CMPA project to Odisha from 13th to 17th February 2017. This is part of their project "Conservation and Sustainable Management of Coastal and Marine Protected Areas, India (CMPA).
Group Photo of the Participants at the Chilika Development Authority.
Photocredit Mohan Upadhyay
This flagship project of the Indo-German technical cooperation is funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). It is implemented by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India, and GIZ on behalf of BMUB. The Mangrove cell Maharashtra is the nodal agency for the project in Maharashtra.
This project aims at conservation and management of potential marine protected areas in Maharashtra through strengthening participatory management, and this exposure visit was to enable the 14 participants gain exposure to different management and tourism models and interact with their contemporaries in Orissa. The team was led by Mr. N Vasudevan, CCF Mangrove cell, Dr. Aaron Lobo and Ms. Supriya Jhunjhunwala from GIZ.
The team spent two days in Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park, one of India’s finest and pristine mangrove forests. It was declared a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1975 to protect the Estuarine or Saltwater Crocodile Crocodylus porosus but later it was also found to be a haven for birds.
The team reached Bhitarkanika on February 13, 2017 and visited the park the following day. A nature trail was lead by Dr. Aaron Lobo, followed by a boat ride into the lush mangrove forests abundant with estuarine crocodiles. Mangrove species seen by staff included Ceriops decandra, Heritiera fomes, Excoecaria agallocha, Avicennia officinalis, Pongamia pinnata and Cynometra sp. The team also interacted with local foresters and visited the crocodile breeding centre and mangrove nursery.
Participants in the pristine Mangroves of Bhitarkanika National Park.
Photo Credit Supriya Jhunjhunwala
On day three and four the Participants visited, Chilika Lagoon, Nalabana Bird Sanctuary and Rushikulya Beach, a mass nesting site for Olive Ridley turtles.
The Chilika lagoon is spread over 1000 sq. km. It is the largest brackish water wetland in India and several islands are located within the lagoon. The Nalabana Island of the Chilika Lake was declared as a bird sanctuary in 1987.
On February 16, 2017 the participants visited Chilika Lagoon and Nalabana Bird Sanctuary. Here they also gained exposure to the tourism model for sighting the Irrawady Dolphin Orcaella brevirostris. The Irrawady Dolphin listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Redlist.
In the evening a visit was arranged for the Wetland Research and Training Centre of the Chilika Development Authority (CDA) where the participants were shown two documentaries, the first on rejuvenation of the dying Chilika Lake and the second on how CDA manages such a huge lake for sustainable fishing through research and participatory approaches.
Participants visit the Wetland Research and Training Centre (CDA).
Photo Credit Mangrove Cell
Odisha is known for the world’s largest rookery of Olive Ridley Sea Turtles Lepidochelys olivacea, listed Vulnerable in the IUCN red data book. The Mangrove Cell and GIZ team paid a visit to this beach, on the night of February 16, and early morning on Feb 17, 2017. Here they witnessed over 100,000 turtles nesting on a single beach. The forest officials here along with the local NGO Dakshin foundation count the number of turtles visiting this beach, this year the count was nearly 400,000. Local conservationists and forest department officials interacted with the participants and explained the methodology and the procedure of counting turtles.
Participants at Rushikulya Beach.
Photo Credit Mangrove Cell
On the last day the participants visited Mangalajodi, a small village in Chilika Lake to gain exposure to the community led ecotourism model. The marshes around Mangaljodi attract a large congregation of waterfowl. This site is a classic example of poachers turning into conservationist. The Mangalajodi Ecotourism model is a great example of how to inspire, inform and enable communities to turn ecosystems into a sustainable source of livelihood through well managed tourism instead of exploiting them for short term profits. They met Mr. Nand Kishore Bhujbal who helped bring about behaviour change in the local communities. He constituted a Bird Protection Committee known as Sri Sri Mahabir Pakshi Surakshya Samiti which started regular patrolling putting an end to poaching forever.
The participants took a boat ride in Mangalajodi and observed that the birds weren’t disturbed because gondola like silent boats without motors or engines were used. The participants were inspired by the local community members who are well trained local naturalists and excellent at bird identification. They also visited the interpretation centre at Mangalajodi.
Participants visiting the Interpretation Center built by the community at Manglajodi.
Photo Credit Mangrove Cell
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