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Kokkarebellur : a great example of Symbiosis between Man and Bird

Updated on April 7, 2017
Kokkarebellur village
Kokkarebellur village
Spot-billed Pelicans on a tree in Kokkerabellur
Spot-billed Pelicans on a tree in Kokkerabellur
Painted Storks on a tree in Kokkerabellur
Painted Storks on a tree in Kokkerabellur
Painted Storks on a tree in Kokkarebellur
Painted Storks on a tree in Kokkarebellur

Kokkarebellur : an introduction

In these days where birds are seen often as a nice protein-rich dish for a meal, there are some examples where this is not true, where the birds are seen as part of the Nature in which we the human beings belong to, and there is a beautiful symbiotic relation between the two. One such commendable example is the case of Kokkarebellur, a remote village in the state of Karnataka, India. Here, villagers are living a life of complete harmony and co-operation between themselves and the migratory Pelicans and Painted Storks which migrate in this village every year for nesting and hatching the young.

Kokkrebellur : what the name signifies

The local name of the Painted Stork (Ibis leaucocephalus) is ‘Kokkare” in the Kannada language and ‘Bellur” means ‘white village’. Combining the two words, Kokkarebellur means ‘the White village of storks’ or the village made white by storks. The white here may point towards the white coloured droppings of the thousands of birds which have made the trees in the village their homes.

A village woman collecting the white droppings of the birds
A village woman collecting the white droppings of the birds

Migratory birds of Kokkerabellur

Two types of migratory birds have made this village their temporary home :

1) The Painted Storks (Ibis leaucocephalus) , and

2) The Spotbilled Pelicans (Pelicanus phillipensis).

Both are classified as “Near Threatened category” in IUCN Red List of 2009.

Kokkarebellur is one of the 21 breeding sites of these birds recognized in India.

The birds start coming when the monsoon ends in September. They make nests in the trees --mainly the Ficus trees (Ficus religiosa and Ficus bengalensis) and the Tamarind trees (Tamarindus indica) and start laying eggs from October. The young ones hatch from eggs from January. The parents feed their offspring and when they are old enough to fly, they leave the village, only to come back again in next September. It is said that the same birds come and make nests in the same tree year after year.

A Tamarind tree at Kokkerabellur with some Painted Storks sitting on the tree
A Tamarind tree at Kokkerabellur with some Painted Storks sitting on the tree
A Painted Stork
A Painted Stork
Another Painted Stork on a Tamarind tree
Another Painted Stork on a Tamarind tree
A Spot-billed Pelican
A Spot-billed Pelican
Another Spot-billed Pelican
Another Spot-billed Pelican
A pair of Spot-billed Pelicans
A pair of Spot-billed Pelicans
A Painted Stork
A Painted Stork

Non-migratory birds of Kokkerabellur

Apart from these two migratory birds, Kokkarebellur is also the home of a number of non-migratory birds like Black-crowned night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), Grey Pond Heron (Ardea cineresa), Indian Pond Heron (Ardeola grayii), Little Cormorant (Phalacrocorax niger) and Black Ibis (Pseudibis papillosa).

Black- crowned Night Heron
Black- crowned Night Heron
Indian Pond Heron
Indian Pond Heron

The symbiotic relationship between the birds and the villagers

The villagers are very attached emotionally to the birds and they help and protect the birds from natural and human dangers. On the other hand, the birds provide the villagers Potassium- rich manure in the form of their droppings (guano) which is very useful to the villagers. So, here we see a nice symbiotic relationship between the two.

How to go

Kokkarebellur is situated near the state highway connecting Bangaluru and Mysuru. It is about 82 km from Bangaluru (Bangalore), the state capital and is well-connected to that city or Mysuru as well. On the Bangaluru – Mysuru highway, near the town of Channapatna, there is a smaller road forking to the left (if one comes from Bangaluru). This road leads to the village of Kokkarebellur which is about 13 km from that road intersection.

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