Dhanmandal: Where Migratory Birds feel at home

For the first timers Dhanmandal might appear an ordinary and small station but a closer look and one is greeted by hundreds of birds who have chosen this place for their breeding purpose. Come June every year and the villagers witness the sky filled with floc
ks of these migratory birds. It has been more than 100 years that the Asian Open Bill Storks, locally known as Gendalias fly towards Dhanmandal from different directions in the month of June and stay here for about seven months.
Dhanmandal market place in Badchana Block of Jajpur District has been the home for these winged visitors since more than 100 years. According to the local people these birds come in flock, each in a pair of two. They come, breed and fly away with their little ones said Sanatan Mallick, railway staff posted at Dhanmandal. One female lays around 6-8 eggs and they nurture their young ones in the secured and vigilant eyes of the local people. Once the young ones are capable to fly themselves the birds leave the place along with their little ones around the month of December.
The visit of these birds is an indicator of onset of monsoon. The local people greet these birds with great happiness and joy as the presence of these birds in their area brings good monsoon. Pravakar Mohapatra recalls that this year as the monsoon was late; they saw that these birds came to their place and went away without building their nests. The birds again flocked the place after month and a half and this time they came to breed and stared building their nests. Once the birds came the local people also witnessed rains in the area. Hence the local people revere the birds and take good care of these visitors and protect them from any threats. And during this time, the local people happily play the role of custodians of the birds.
This unique co-existence of men and birds in the remote village of Orissa has now become a conservation model for many. Noisy hubbubs of Gendalia flocks disturb the tranquillity of the place and smell of their droppings makes it difficult for the local residents as well as the travelers. The Asian Open Bill Storks feed mainly on molluscs and fresh water snails etc.
The Gendalias are being actively protected by the local people who don’t even remember when and how they really started protecting these birds. 3 groups viz: Dhanmandal Bazaar committee, Police outpost and the Railway staff are actively involved in the conservation of these birds. According to K.K Lakra a GRP staff, earlier poaching of these birds for meat was rampant in the area but due to their initiative now it has been completely stopped. If a person is found targeting Gendalias, we impose a fine of Rs 1,000 on him. Nobody can cause harm to the birds,” said Lakra.
The local people said that due to their conservation initiative the number of birds flocking the area has increased in the past years. Earlier the birds used to nest in only two banyan trees in the area but now the birds have been found nesting in the adjacent 7 banyan trees which shows that the number of visitors have considerably increased.
When the people happily shared with the research team of Vasundhara, their experiences and about their conservation initiative, they also expressed their concern that the area has till not caught the attention of the officials and the researchers and they believe that more research should be carried out which would increase the number of birds coming to the area.

Contact Person:
N. Panda – Station Master
Pravakar Mohapatra
Sanatan Mallick
K.K Lakra – Ph No. - 9861111436

















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