July 28, 2015
In a world where even conferences held for protecting animals are met with fierce opposition, here is a village in Coimbatore that cares so much for its birds that the villagers don’t even burst crackers on Diwali lest is scares the feathered and winged creatures away.
A 20 km drive brought the Covai Post team to the village called Kittampalayam, near Karumathampatti, where the birds are protected. With the help of Noyyal Pasumai Kazhgam, or the Noyyal Trust Foundation, the village Panchayat started to distribute awareness pamphlets and put up posters about the protection of birds a few years ago.
That was when they began abstaining from exploding crackers. Even the Border Security Force (BSF) personnel shun crackers. Evenings are enchanting in Kittampalayam when thousands of bats leave the banyan trees in search of food, while hordes of cattle egrets take their places, to rest for the night.
Since 2000, the village has been home to the Indian flying fox (belonging to the bat family), common myna, babbler bird, cattle egret, and bulbuls. The villagers made a conscious decision to reduce cracker-burning in 2008. By 2011, it was reduced to nil.
According to Noyyal Pasumai Kazhgam’s president, R. Palanisamy, there are around ten banyan trees in this village where the bats live. These bats had migrated from Kaniyur on Avinashi Road, and villages like Thaneerpanthal, Velandipalayam, before finally reaching Kittampalayam in 2000. Widespread cutting down of trees led to the migration. According to the village Panchayat president Jothimani Ramasamy, “There are 2000 families residing in the village. We know the importance of birds.” The village crier used to announce around Diwali, to not explode crackers. The village has two main roosting sites, each with more than 2000 bats. “These bats are protected from poachers due to the awareness of the villagers,” said L. Joseph Reginald, a researcher of SACON.
Speaking to the media, S. Ganesh, Commandant, 149 BN Border Security Force said that since they work with nature and the environment in the borders, he assured that they wouldn’t burn crackers in the BSF campus. “We too support the conservation work of the villagers in protecting the birds of Kittampalayam,” he said.