Ballari: Illumination of Matanga Hills angers bird lovers

Ballari: One of the last remaining habitats of the Yellow Throated Bulbul on Matanga Hills at the world heritage site, Hampi, is being cleared by the district administration to facilitate the installation of lighting equipment for the upcoming Hampi Utsav, much to the anger of bird watchers and naturalists here.

Birdwatchers on an early morning trip to see birds in and around Hampi, were in for a shock on Saturday when they saw the pruning of the scrub jungle on Matanga Hills. They feel the pruning of the scrubs will severely impact the  Yellow Throated Bulbul (YTB), which according to Indian Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is  categorised as ‘vulnerable’.

Local bird watchers Pompayya Malemath, Mr Samad Kottur, Mr Santosh Martin and other naturalists and wildlife enthusiasts have also expressed concern and want the authorities to stop the pruning. 

“I was shocked to see the trimming of scrubs and cutting of some trees at Matanga hill. The birds will vanish if the scrub jungle is cleared. I urge the authorities not to cut the jungle so that the vulnerable birds are preserved,” said  Pompaiah Swamy Malemath, a birdwatcher.

Sources said the authorities are clearing the shrubs atop the Hill, so that the rocks can be illuminated during the three day Hampi Utsav scheduled to be held from November 3. 

Mr Martin has written to the Chairman, Hampi World Heritage Area Management Authority requesting him to stop the removal of the shrubs. "Since this is one of the last habitats of the bird in the world, many bird watchers, scientists and naturalists from across the globe visit this place to study and photograph the bird. This site is of much pride for Ballari district and Hampi as well", he pointed out in the letter.

Samad Kottur, president, North Karnataka Birders’ Network, said the scrub jungle in and around Hampi is considered a deemed forest because of the presence of birds and wildlife and should not be disturbed. 

Deputy Conservator of  Forests Mr Ramesh Kumar, however said the work has been stopped after it was brought to his notice.

“I have sent local forest officials to the spot and now, there is no threat to the birds,” he asserted. 

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Note from Kannada.Club :

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