Nandi Hills: A Paradise Being Lost
The Nandi Hills are isolated twin hills on the outskirts of Bangalore. These are hills on the top of the Deccan plateau & are part of a small range, so they are quite high (almost 5,000 feet). They are the source of not one but four rivers. They have a history connected to them & were the summer palace of the mighty ruler Tipu Sultan in the late 1700s. At the top of the hill there is a forest with some plant nurseries.
The height & unique environment of the hills attract several species of migratory birds from the Himalayas & beyond. in winter & birds from the Western Ghats in summer among other local birds.
Among the rarer ones is the Nilgiri Wood Pigeon. This is a forest bird that is endemic to South India.
Nilgiri Wood Pigeon
The other birds that are known from here but I have not seen them of late due to habitat loss:
This bird is found only in South India & is a Vulnerable species. My blogpost here: https://bit.ly/3Fixy7b
This migratory bird is found mostly in the Himalayas & Northeast India. It is highly unexpected & very rare in the south.
This is another migratory bird that migrates from the Himalayas to South India & Sri Lanka. These hills are one of it’s few regular locations. It is very uncommon in other areas & is endemic to the subcontinent.
The biggest threat to the birds of Nandi Hills is habitat loss. In many of the spots I visit regularly for birding, trees & bushes have been cut. The leaf litter has been cleared from the place once by visited litter picking birds for beautification. In another area there is an open lawn where I have seen several birds that forage in the grass. Now, trees are being planted there & circular fences have been placed around the seedlings. The number of birds in these areas has decreased. Just above the lawn on a hill slope, there were some bushes where I once saw flocks of birds that were feeding on seeds & berries. Those bushes have now been cleared away.
Overcrowding is also a problem since Nandi hills is a popular tourist spot. During weekends, thousands of people visit the area to view the sunrise and with them comes loud music, noise and littering. The parking becomes full with hundreds of cars & bikes. Further, Nandi Hills is being developed as a ‘weekend tourism’ destination and ‘beautification’ of the area is being done to encourage tourism. While, administrators have done well to ban vehicular traffic from the main area, one can still see Official & ‘VIP” vehicle convoys getting unrestricted access.
Monkeys are also found in large numbers there & people often feed them. I recently saw someone bring a car load of bananas to feed them. What I have seen is that birds do get disturbed when monkeys come to an area.
There was also a landslide there recently. Despite that, there is a plan to build a ropeway. I have seen hoardings talking about paragliding which, I am sure, will start shortly.
I hope the administrators will do their best to protect the unique ecosystem of this area, before it is too late.