Extending over 1,650 acres, Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary
at Kodikkarai is located in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu. 45km
South of Velanganni, the sanctuary consists 17 sq km of tidal swamps,
which forms an ideal habitat for flamingos especially in December and
January and other water birds. The proximity of delightful beaches, historic
sites make this sanctuary a delightful and adventurous wilderness vacation.
The area was first identified in 1962 as an area of high
conservation significance, birds by the late Dr. Salim Ali, the world
famous ornithologist. The sanctuary was established on June 13 1967 to
protect the forests, with an area of 24.17 km.sq. Later it was enlarged
in 1988 to include the Great Vedaranyam Swamp and the Talaignayar Reserve
Forest, and renamed as Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary, with
a total area of 377 km².
The biodiversity consists of tropical evergreen forests, luxuriant
mangroves, salt marsh to grasslands. The dominant trees of this sanctuary
are Manilkara hexandra and Salvadora persica.
Insectivorous plants like Drosera burmanii and D.indica are also seen
in this sanctuary. Halophytes such as Arthrocnemum indicum, Salicornia
brachiata and Sessuvium portulacastrum are found in the marshy areas.
The sanctuary boasts patches of mangroves predominated by Avicennia sp.
and Rhizophora sp.lensis. Calotropis gigantea, Clerodendrum inerme, Pandanus
tectorius , Ipomoea pes- capre, Spinifex littoreus, Zoysia matrella, Avicennia
etc are the other dominant plant species found in Point Calimere. Aquatics
plant species such as Aponogeton natans, Bergia capensis, Najas graminea
and Sphenoclea zeylanica are largely found during the monsoon.
Around 250 different bird species have been spotted here. About 20000
Flamingoes visit this sanctuary every year. The greater flamingo and the
lesser flamingo, Spot - billed pelican, Spoonbilled sandpiper, Asian dowitcher,
Whitebellied seaeagle, Brahminy kite and Osprey are the major waterbird
species found in Point Calimere. Rosy Pastors, Green pigeons, Koels, Mynahs,
Barbets, Paradise flycatcher, Indian pitta, Blyth reed warbler, Crested
serpent eagle, Shrikes, Eurasian Spoonbill, Northern Shoveler, Swallows,
Drongos, Minivets, Blue Jays, Wood peckers and Robins among others.
Apart from these, 14 species of mammals such as Spotted
Deear, Black Buck, Wild boar, Jackal as well as reptiles are also found
in the Sanctuary. The swamp supports a major commercial fishing industry.
The sanctuary can be explored by jeep and it can be booked at Reception.
Apart from flora and fauna, historical sites like Ramar Padam, Modimandapam
and Old Chola lighthouse are located in the Sanctuary. Located on the
highest point of land in the sanctuary, Ramar Padam carries the stone
footprints of Lord Rama. Near to this there is watch tower where one can
view the larger mammals and birds. The ruins of a 1000-year old Chola
light house stands at the point known as Point Calimere. Here, the Bay
of Bengal meets the Palk Strait. A modern lighthouse constructed in 1890
lies close to the spot.
The sanctuary is home to hundreds of various mammals like Blackbuck,
Blue bull, Nilgai, Hog deer, Sambar, Wild dog or dhole, Caracal, Wild
cat, Hedgehog, Mongoose, Striped hyena, Indian porcupine, Rattle badger,
Leopard, Wild pig, and Four horned antelope.
Besides bird-watching, the park has provided the facilities of an education
and interpretation centre, a library, films, slides and binoculars. Boating
facility is also available in the lake situated within the park.
A room dedicated to the memory of Dr. Salim Ali, which contains his bust,
photographs, write ups, and some of his personal effects. There is public
parking, bathrooms, drinking water facilities and a children's park in
the reserve. For those wishing to stay overnight, the park also has a
well appointed guest house with all amenities.
When to Visit :
The park is best visited in winters when a large number of migratory
birds arrive. For the benefit of bird lovers certain facilities have been
provided like an education and interpretation centre, a library as well
as films, slides and binoculars. There are hideouts and four watch towers
located at different points. There is also boating facility in the Sultanpur
lake inside the park.