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2008

MONITORING REPORT ON PITTI BIRD SANCTUARY, LAKSHADWEEP-INDIA

LAKSHADWEEP MARINE RESEARCH AND CONSERVATION CENTRE LAKSHADWEEP - INDIA

India Jafer Hisham and Idrees Babu Lakshadweep Marine Research and Conservation Centre Lakshadweep India November 2008 .Page |2 MONITORING REPORT ON PITTI BIRD SANCTUARY. Lakshadweep.

India. Kavaratti Island. Lakshadweep. CITATION Jafer Hisham. + 91 9447192561 jaferhisham@gmail. India -682555 + 91 9746544553. Published by the Lakshadweep Marine Research and conservation Centre (LMRCC) under its SUSTAINABLE LIVELIHOODS FOR SUSTAINABLE FUTURE INITIATIVE. 2008 . provided appropriate credit is given. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of information in this report. idreesbabu@gmail. LMRCC accepts no responsibility for losses. Sayed Ali.Page |3 COVER PHOTO Aerial view of Pitti Island. Any commercial use of this material is prohibited without prior permission. Department of Information Publicity and Tourism. Kavarati Island U. any portion of it may be freely copied and distributed.T of Lakshadweep. costs and other consequences resulting directly or indirectly from its use. India.T of Lakshadweep. Idrees Babu. Lakshadweep Marine Research and Conservation Centre. Lakshadweep India. Administration of U. AVAILABLE FROM: Lakshadweep Marine Research and Conservation Centre (LMRCC) Pittiyathala. While LMRCC reserves all rights for this publication. M.com. Sandy Beach.Monitoring Report on Pitti Bird Sanctuary. LMRCC would appreciate receiving a copy of any publication that uses this publication as a source.com . damage.

.......................................... 15 Recommendations ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 9 Aim of study ............................................................. 12 Discussions ................................................................................................... 5 IBA Lakshadweep ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 7 General description on Pitti .. 10 Observations .................................................... 10 Methods of study...................................................................................................................................................................... 17 ........................................................ 16 References......................................... 11 Pollution In Pitti ................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 13 Threats and Conservation issues........................................................................................................................................................................... 7 Avifauna ............................. 8 Terns and Tuna fishing in Lakshadweep ....................................................................................................................................Page |4 Table of Contents Acknowledgements................ 8 Lakshadweep Marine Research and Conservation Centre ..................................................... 6 Introduction ..........................................................................

Director Reef Watch Marine Conservation and Member National board for Wildlife. Environmental Wardens were always available for advice and help. GOI for her valuable advice and support for LMRCC. Kumar I. Department of Zoology. University of Calicut. LEAD International UK for her invaluable support to LMRCC from its formation to till date. Dr.F. We record our deep gratitude to the Chief Wildlife Warden.T of Lakshadweep Shri. Our Grateful thanks go to Dr Asad Rahmani.P Mohammed and Cheriya Koya. K. U. Assistant Director BNHS for his continued support and inspiration to LMRCC. We are thankful to Mrs. Hussain and Thayib at LMRCC for their dedication and continued inspiration for the protection of marine biodiversity of Lakshadweep. Nasser. G.Page |5 Acknowledgements We take this opportunity to express our gratitude to all the people who helped us in this work. Kerala for his comments and advice on the draft of this report. We are also thankful Dr M. Lecturer. from the time of its inception to its conclusion. Mittali Dutt Kakkar. He was always inspirational to us with advices and guidelines. Thanks to Abdu.S for providing the permits required for the study and for his sustained involvement in the study. Sayed Ali. Anver. We acknowledge with thanks Mr Deepak Apte. We are indebted to Andrea Agnes Deri. Authors . Director Bombay Natural History Society whose concern for birds gave the necessary impetus for this study.

Reef .500 mm Temperature: 17 °C to 38 °C Biogeography Zone: Islands Habitats: Sandy Island.Lakshadweep Pitti Bird Sanctuary IBA Site Code: IN-LD-01 State: Lakshadweep Islands District: Lakshadweep Islands Coordinates: 10° 46' 54" N.21 ha Altitude: 2 . 73° 31' 59" E Ownership: State Area: 1.Page |6 Important Bird Areas in India .6 m Rainfall: 1.

3 reefs. The island is mostly made up of broken coral and coarse sand.200 sq. territorial waters of 20. Lakshadweep is a Union Territory with an area of 32 sq km and has 11 inhabited islands. GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PITTI Lying about 24 kms North West of Kavaratti. with a lagoon in between. with sloping beaches and rock ledges. a broad.11⁰ 45' North and 72⁰ 00' . The island is devoid of vegetation. IP&T. ©SAYED ALI. and 5 submerged banks. The Central area of the Pitti locally called Fakkiya Kadu is slightly sunken into a shallow crater.000 sq kms and 4 lakh sq.Page |7 INTRODUCTION Lakshadweep is an archipelago consisting of 12 atolls. with a low –lying island on the east .kms of exclusive economic zone. above msl at high tide. The islands have a lagoon area of 4. 220-440 Kms away from the coastal city of Kochi in Kerala. It is about 1. It is located between 8⁰ 15' . well – developed reef on the west. The island was formed by the accumulation of coral sand in the form of a sandbank with the action of the wind. waves and currents. U.74⁰ 00' East. where terns nest.T OF LAKSHADWEEP . connected to the open ocean by one or several channels. Pitti is an uninhabited. The island is a low plateau rising 2 m.21 hectares in area and has no lagoon.kms. Reefs are mainly atolls. completely barren island with a sandbank and with large numbers of pelagic birds nesting on it.

Kurup and Zacharias 1994).Page |8 AVIFAUNA The island has been known from the early 19th century to harbor many varieties of terns. This island is of great importance as breeding colonies of pelagic birds are rare in the Indian Territory. which in turn depends on the availability of live baits. Pitti is the breeding ground for four species of terns: Sooty Tern Sterna fuscata. a common resource shared by the Terns.000 individuals. Live baits are the small fishes used for tuna fishing such as Spratelloides sp commonly called sprat. Tuna and the people. with numbers known to exceed 20. Great Crested Tern S. . © JAFER HISHAM/LMRCC Spratelloides japonicus. It is no exaggeration to say that the well being of the Lakshadweep fishermen depends on the success of the pole and line tuna fishery. TUNA FISHING AND TERNS IN LAKSHADWEEP Terns play an important role in the marine ecosystem of Lakshadweep as energy transmitters from sea to land. bergii. Bridled Tern S. Pole and line fisheries in fact comprises of two separate fisheries: an off shore one for tuna and inshore one for live baits. The people of this archipelago have been traditionally depending on the coconut and fish for subsistence for centuries with a specialized economy focusing on pole and line tuna fishing. anaethetus and Brown Noddy Anous stolidus (Betts 1938.

Thus the breeding terns of Pitti are highly beneficial to the fishing community and their livelihood. students and women groups for the sustainable and wise use of coral reefs. Lakshadweep Marine Research and Conservation Centre enjoy the support of Department of Fisheries. that both the terns and tuna are attracted by small fishes like Spratelloides sp (sprat) in the ocean which are the important food sources that they share. Bygamore Perumalpar and submerged bank of Elikalpeni for fishing. The organization has a volunteer network covering all the island of Lakshadweep. cheriyam and submerged reefs namely cheriyapani. youth. Lakshadweep Marine Research and Conservation Centre is organizational partner in the Indian Bird Conservation Network (IBCN). Thinakara. The team members are from the island community and also maintain strong collaborations with colleagues in other countries. Most of our volunteers are fisherman who often visits uninhabited islands of Suheli. Sprats are surface shoaling fishes that are found in lagoon as well as in the open sea. LAKSHADWEEP MARINE RESEARCH AND CONSERVATION CENTRE (LMRCC) Lakshadweep Marine Research and Conservation Centre is an organization committed to conservation and sustainable development of the Lakshadweep’s coral reef ecosystems. . We work closely with the local community. Parali. The terns indicate the tuna shoal to the fishermen thus helping them to find tuna shoal from very long distance and play an important role in supporting their livelihood. Once enough bait is collected the boats sail to the open sea in search of tuna shoal. We work with various stakeholders including fishermen. looking for the congregation of sea birds flying on the open ocean.Page |9 The island fishermen set out for the pole and line fishing by collecting the live baits in the early hours of the morning some time as early as 4:00 am. The central coordinating office is housed at the Sandy Beach Cultural and Eco Tourism Society. The local fisher folk are keenly aware of the phenomenon. Flocks of terns follow these shoals and are frequently seen feeding and hovering around areas where the shoals come to the surface. Our vision is a sustainably progressing Lakshadweep where coral reefs are healthy and well-managed. Administration of Union Territory of Lakshadweep. Kavaratti Island. Lakshadweep Dive Club and Fisherman welfare association in Kavaratti Island.

The scientific studies available point out the reducing population structure in Pitti. All observations were made during the day light hours. METHODS OF STUDY Observations were made after landing in Pitti using small boat. Birds were counted while they were resting on the ground. January 2007 and November 2008 and observed birds. Estimate the numbers of terns at Pitti. We also collected data on waste material found in Pitti. The factors threatening the survival of birds. The introduction of boats and outboard engines for fisheries development in the territory opened new avenues of fishing grounds. This mechanization also took a toll over the birds of Pitti as this island become easily accessible for egg collection. . During our present visit on November 2008 an Indian Naval Team surveying in the area helped us to land safely in their motorized rib. Species richness and abundance was also recorded. and this was not possible to many.P a g e | 10 AIM OF THE STUDY Pitti Island was declared as a bird sanctuary on December 2001 through a notification in the official gazetteer. • • • • To observe the species composition in Pitti. Published literature on Pitti was also referred. One to one interviews with old and young local tuna fishermen from Kavaratti and Agatti were also used for collecting information. We made 3 visits to Pitti viz: in December 2005. Eggs were collected from Pitti by local people for last many years. The present study was undertaken by a research team from LMRCC with the help of local Fisher folk from Kavaratti. The birds of Pitti Island and the ecology of terns in Lakshadweep are less studied. To investigate the recent reports on fewer terns observed. Photographic documentation was made with still and video cameras. The main objectives were. Earlier people used rowing boats to reach Pitti and collect eggs.

On our second visit on January 2007 we found many breeding Sooty and Noody terns. All the dead birds recorded were of Noody Terns. We also observed some eggs. In our recent visit in November 2008 no nesting activity was observed. most of them decomposed .) . In many areas heaps of feathers were observed indicating earlier death. No Sooty Terns were seen on the Island. Birds were less in numbers. We have recorded 42 dead Noody Terns on Pitti. • • • Sooty tern (Sterna fusacta) Noody Tern (Anous stolidus) Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) Noody Tern© JAFER HISHAM Sooty Tern© IDREES BABU On our first visit in December 2005 we observed lots of sooty and Noody terns and there was no nesting. The birds counted during the present survey are listed in table 1.P a g e | 11 OBSERVATIONS We observed the following species of birds in Pitti. We also learned from an Indian Naval ship surveying near Pitti that during their last visit in 2007 they observed many birds but they could not confirm whether they were nesting (Per comm. Birds were too weak to fly off allowing researchers to catch them by hand. most of them were decomposed with fleshy parts eaten by hermit crabs and some dried in hot sun. 42 recently dead Noody Terns. Table: 1. We could observe only one freshly dead bird. Island Pitti ST 50 NT 123 LrCT LsCT Remarks Many dead Noody Terns. Sooty terns recorded were also was less in number compared to our earlier visits. which is very unusual. The live Noody Terns observed were found weak. we could count only 123 Noody Terns in 2 separate flocks. Bird estimates during 2008 survey.

P a g e | 12 ST= Sooty Tern. any manufactured material becomes marine debris. The beaches and the central area (Pakkiya Kadu) in Pitti are polluted with waste materials. NT = Noddy Tern. LrCT =Large Crested Tern. In 2005 we have observed the decayed carcass of one Noody tern with a plastic material entangled in its mouth. Dead birds observed in Pitti © ABDULLA KOYA. IDREES BABU/LMRCC POLLUTION IN PITTI Marine debris is one of the world’s most pervasive pollution problem affecting our seas and oceans. or hand to sand. Thousands of marine animals die each year from becoming entangled in debris or from consuming it. sewer to surf. LsCT = Lesser Crested Tern In addition we recorded about 20 Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres in our present survey. Marine debris found over Piiti during our November 2008 survey is summarized in table 3. By the simple process of moving from ship to sea. .

a mere visit to Pitti Island will give them a handful of eggs which they shared with their family and neighbors. They also were not collecting many eggs as their country crafts were small and they had to travel long distances to reach their island.P a g e | 13 Table: 3. In olden days access to Pitti was limited because only rowing boats were available at that time and only adventurous people opted out to visit Pitti. . Agatti and Amini were using Pitti Island from olden days when the availability of food resources were limited on the islands. Marine debris found over Pitty. Thus this island was providing them with the much needed protein. SNo 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Item Plastic bottles Glass bottles Alcohol Bottles Footwear Wooden pieces Tube light Shampoo Bottles Inhaler Lighter Rope Pieces Nos observed 45 28 9 21 16 2 6 3 5 25 © JAFER HISHAM/LMRCC © ABDULLA KOYA/LMRCC DISCUSSIONS The islanders from Kavaratti. As this island was undisturbed and supported many terns.

fish landing has leaped from 500 tons in 1960 to 7200 tons by 1988.P a g e | 14 Interviews with old fishermen revealed that Pitti was also helping them as a navigational reference during night time. They also started collecting eggs in large quantities in their big mechanized boats compared to earlier small country crafts. The local fishermen locate tuna shoals in the open ocean with the help of feeding terns. This program was a success and fishermen adopted this method to fish in distant fishing grounds. Pitti Island is the only oceanic bird sanctuary India has and it has a global significance. Odam© SAYED FATHAHULLA A planned program for the development of fisheries in Lakshadweep was started with the establishment of the fisheries department in the year 1959. In addition the department also supplied out board motors to use in country crafts. Scientific studies revealed that Pitti supports 4 species of terns. Mechanization has made reaching Pitti less laborious and many fishermen fish near Pitti waters as these areas are believed to yield good fish catches. Thus terns are an integral part of Lakshadweep fishing practices. The development which provided a boom in the fishery sector of Lakshadweep has proved detrimental to the nesting birds of Pitti Island in another aspect. Since the introduction of new fishing methods. thus reducing their scouting time and energy and fuel. Pune together with Indian coast Guard in 2006 recorded breeding colonies of terns only in Pitti . The department started supplying mechanized boats in 1963 and promoted pole and line Tuna fishery. When their traditional sailing vessels (Odams) pass near Pitti they can get the smell of the island (The Island is rich with Guano deposits) and the bird calls. Pitti is the only IBA site (Important Bird area) in Lakshadweep. A survey by ELA Foundation. Ecological Society. Some fishermen believe that Tern eggs have medicinal properties and are good for small children. The level of exploitation of the bird eggs may lead to very serious problems which will in turn affect the tuna fishing based local economy. The discussions and surveys among the local tuna fishermen revealed that the collection of eggs is a part time activity in addition to fishing. The number of terns is getting reduced from year to year as per the available data.

. used and leaking batteries. reported by our fishermen volunteers. etc. cigarette cartons. Lack of regular monitoring help poachers to exploit birds and eggs. during these trips they also collects eggs. is observed in Pitti which will be disastrous for birds and chicks. The continental shelf of Pitti is extending up to the vicinity of Amini Island. Bygamore. The 2006 survey ELA foundation documented 16. But we could not find any tagged birds in Pitti either dead or alive. bottles. This indicates the birds of Pitti are facing threats that are anthropogenic and also from diseases. Suheli Pitty (Karinga Kuppu).360 birds which was a welcome sign compared to 8000 birds reported by Madras Naturalists society survey in 1991. The present study was carried out to assess the population of birds and also to learn about the recent mass mortality of terns in Pitti. Kavaratti Island and other islands. In our present survey we could only count 123 Noody terns and 50 Sooty terns..P a g e | 15 and Cheriyapani. They also found that Pitti is having high distribution of terns compared to Cheriyapani. Another major problem is the lack of the awareness among fishermen about the importance of these terns in their livelihood. We also found 42 dead birds and traces of more birds. electric glass bulbs. THREATS AND CONSERVATION ISSUES The main threats to Pitti Island are natural (Heavy rains and predation by crabs) and anthropogenic (Collection of eggs and chicks). but our discussions with fishermen revealed that they are not used to collection of Guano from Pitti. Although the island is uninhabited fisher folk visit Pitti waters for live bait collection and fishing. Recently we have encountered a Brown Noody tagged in Seychelles in eastern side of Amini Island. This indicates that the terns in Indian Ocean may be visiting nearby islands groups. Marine debris like plastic. cans. Guano collection is reported and documented in Cheriyapani by some researchers.

• • . Tagging and tracking studies have to be initiated to study the breeding and foraging range of Lakshadweep’s terns. A comprehensive monitoring program should be designed for Pitti and monitoring should be conducted every month and also bird count has to be conducted pre and post monsoon to know the population trend. local people and Lakshadweep Environment & Forests Department with the help of international initiatives like Global Sea Bird Programme of Bird Life International.P a g e | 16 RECOMMENDATIONS Research • • Detailed management plans have to be developed for Pitti bird Sanctuary. fishermen .school students and tourists with education and outreach materials An interpretation center has to be developed in the islands of Kavaratti and Agatti. Education and awareness program has to be initiated for the local islanders. Bird surveys have to be organized every two years in inhabited. research and conservation organizations in the Indian ocean regions. • • • Networking and data sharing protocols have be to developed along with marine bird Conservation • A marine bird monitoring and conservation initiative has to be launched with adequate representation with fisher folk. uninhabited islands and in open reefs of Lakshadweep.

2007. R.2002. Tripathy. U. Betts. Hist. 1900 . Soc 40: 382-387. J. News letter Volume 9. Forktail 10: 49-64. An ornithological expedition to the Lakshadweep archipelago: Assessment of threats to pelagic and other birds and recommendations. Number 4. Lakshadweep: an ornithological study. and Zacharias. (1938) The breeding of the Indian Sooty Tern (Sterna fuscata infuscata) in the Laccadive Islands. Madras.P a g e | 17 REFERENCES Anonymous (1991) Pitti Island. Bombay Nat. N. S. Madras Naturalist Society. J. J.. Indian Ocean. Kharat. 93: 507-510. D. G. Soc. Daniels.. F.T of Lakshadweep. and Gandhi. Sant. Wildlife Institute of India. V. Pednekar. Thirty years of fisheries development in Lakshadweep.. Bombay Nat.A Sanctuary for terns in the Arabian Sea. Mathew. Mestry. 88:320-328. B. J. Hist. P. Kurup. Mathew. S. (1994) Birds of Lakshadweep Islands. G.. N. & Deshmukh. Winter 2002. Soc. J. R. S. Hist. Kavaratti. R (1991) Island biogeography of birds of the Lakshadweep archipelago. Pande. S. N. V. T. Ranade. Department of fisheries. Indian Birds 3 (1): 2–12. D. S. (1996) Breeding season of the terns Sterna fuscata and Anous stolidus in the Lakshadweep. N.. Bombay Nat.. D. N.

P a g e | 18 Lakshadweep Marine Research and Conservation Centre Our seas our future 2008 .