Crocodile Conservation at Manjeera Wildlife Sanctuary
India can easily boast of one of the most diverse ecosystems. In an era of the dwindling forest reserves and declining biodiversity, it is essential to bring the young generation close to nature. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city the forests are great getaways. Manjeera and Singuru Baarrages is spread over 20 sq km. It is known for its avifauna, especially the for the migratory birds and the marsh crocodile (Mugger). The population of the Mugger declined heavily due to excessive fishing, hunting, poaching and habitat destruction due to human activities, pushing it to near extinction. Re- introduction programme was taken up during 1975-76 and protection was given by declaring of the area as a sanctuary.
Students of class X of Nasr Boys school toured the Manjeera Wildlife Sanctuary to study the captive breeding programme for the marsh crocodile. The Environmental Education Center at the Sanctuary educate the visitors about nature conservation. The in-house museum helps in identification of birds and is equipped with a library with books related to ornithology. A short film was shown to the students on Manjeera Wildlife Scantuary and ecological balance.
The Forest Ranger addressed the students on the conservation programme of the marsh crocodiles. The students visited the crocodile breeding pond setup for the captive breeding programme and could view the crocodiles at a close range. Captive breeding is an In-situ conservation programme where the animals are kept under human care for breeding, protection of the offspring from the predators, disease and supply of proper food. At present there are 4 adult crocodiles and about 40 hatchlings in the breeding pond.
The students were allowed to visit the barrage on Manjeera river which is a source of drinking water to Hyderabad city. The water is pumped to the nearby filtration plant before directing it to the city. From there they could watch the endemic and migratory birds. High powered binocular helped the students watch the distant water birds swimming in the reservoir. Babul and Prosopis trees along the bank of the river and thick growth of Ipomea reeds provide nesting and breeding grounds for the birds. Several nearby islands are the main habitat for the marsh crocodiles. as per the latest counting of the crocodiles their number is estimated to be around 557 to 600 in the Manjeera Wildlife sanctuary. If one is lucky enough, he can spot as many as 70 species of birds. Common teal, cotton pygmy goose, crane, barhedeed geese and ruddy shelduck can be seen in large numbers. The near-threatened species darter, painted stork, Oriental white ibis are also present in the sanctuary.
This off campus educational programme was an excellent opportunity for the students to learn about crocodile conservation and study the avifauna diversity.