The recent sightings of golden jackal herd in large numbers have set off fresh discussions among wildlife activists seeking more protection for the Ramsar site – a wetland designated to be of international importance under Ramsar convention –that is facing habitat destruction.
“This is the second time in the past 10 years that our volunteers recorded packs of golden jackal in close quarters. There is a symbiotic relationship between the fishermen and jackal population in Pulicat,” said KVRK Thirunaranan, founder, The Nature Trust.
Sighting jackals was once common in north Tamil Nadu, particularly Tiruvallur, Chengalpattu and Kancheepuram districts. But their population is now threatened due to habitat destruction. “Pulicat serves as an ideal ground for jackal population and there is a need for scientific programmes to protect small mammals,” he added.
The protected site is a migratory home for flamingoes, and has also reported sightings of leopards in the past. Bird watchers frequenting Pulicat have also recorded the large arrival of migratory birds well in advance, which, they said, indicated a normal northeast monsoon for north Tamil Nadu.
“Plovers, common sandpipers, rudy turnstone, whimbrel, great knot, sanderling, pelican, painted stork and stilt have arrived in large numbers,” said N Balaji of Nature Trust, a seasoned bird watcher who frequently visits Pulicat. They are hoping to see more wetland birds by next month, said Balaji, noting how fresh spell of rain have started attracting winter birds to Pulicat.
“Overfishing is an issue in Pulicat and like other wetlands. Pulicat is also facing degradation due to construction and commercial activities. The fly ash from Ennore Port is a threat to the bird sanctuary,” said a Forest official, noting that studies by Salim Ali Centre for Natural History and Ornithology has revealed heavy water contamination due to unregulated aquaculture industry. However, the Revenue departments of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh governments continue to permit polluting industries to operate there, the official said.