Sacred grove in Ramadevara Betta to host vulture sanctuary

Project aimed at conserving birds and shrine

The State forest department influenced by the biodiversity at Thirumala has planned to increase the green cover around Ramadevara Betta. It has also proposed to create a vulture sanctuary.

While trees with religious significance will be grown around the shrine in the hillock, the entire scrub patch of 856 acres around the hillock which consists of the boulder with thirteen Long-billed vultures will be accorded a protected status. The work for the proposed tree park will begin this year.

“The aim of the project is to conserve the birds and the shrine,” said Kumar Pushkar, Chief Conservator of Forests, Bangalore Circle.

A brainchild of Minister for Forests C H Vijayshankar, the tree parks will be established by the department in almost all the districts in the State. Ramanagara will be one of the first districts along with Chamundi Hills in Mysore and Anthara Gange in Kolar district to implement the project. According to the department, the ‘Daiva Vana,’ will comprise trees of religious importance  like ficus, neem, aegil marmelus, red sandalwood and others, while the tree park will be a pool of native species like pteridocarpus, terminola, pongamia, zizipus and others. Planting of trees will be taken up at some of the existing eucalyptus groves. “The growth of native species is slow. However, once it acclitamises to the condition, eucalyptus and other species grown in the grove will be cleared,” said Kumar Pushkar.

As Ramadevara Betta is a much sought after destination for rock climbers, the forest department has made provisions to protect the birds during roosting. A team of officials will visit Ramanagara to discuss the projects with local officers and experts. The work on the project will begin in April 2011.

As part of the conservation programme, the entire region around Ramadevara Betta will be barricaded and protected before planting of trees is taken up. Moreover, the tree park will serve as a lung space for the population in the district, added Kumar Pushkar.

In facts

The Indian Vulture (Gyps indicus) breeds mainly on crags in the hills of Sind in Pakistan, Central and Peninsular India. The birds in the northern part of its range, once considered a sub-species, are now considered a separate species, the Slender-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris. Together they are called Long-billed Vulture. The species breeds mainly on cliffs. Like other vultures it is a scavenger, feeding mostly from carcasses of dead animals which it finds by soaring over savannah and around human habitation. They often move in flocks.

The Long-billed Vulture has a bald head, broad wings and short tail feathers. It is smaller and less heavily-built than the Eurasian Griffon, usually weighing between 5.5 and 6.3 kg and measuring 80–100 cm long and 205 to 229 cm  across the wings.

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