- It’s the 7th important biodiversity hotspot as recognized by the Government of Karnataka
- The only community reserve in Karnataka and home to the spot-billed pelican and painted stork
- Launch of the centre is a step towards developing a community-centric eco-tourism sustainable model
Shri. S. Ziyaullah, Deputy Commissioner, Mandya, in the presence of Mr. Ravi Singh, Secretary General & CEO, WWF India and Mr. Subir Mehra, Head – Operations, Global Service Centres, HSBC, the Interpretation Centre highlights the unique bond shared by the people of Kokkarebellur and the birds, and is a step towards developing a sustainable community centric eco-tourism model.
Kokkarebellur is designated as an ‘Important Bird’ area. Declared as the only community reserve in Karnataka, the village, located approximately 80kms from Bangalore, is named after the unique relationship the people have with the painted storks and spot-billed pelicans that have been migrating to the area for centuries to breed. The wetlands were a perennial source of water for the people of the region and supported the varied biodiversity the region had to offer. However the various pressures on the water sources have led to this area becoming completely dry and in turn impacting its biodiversity.
The Interpretation Centre has been re-opened to build awareness on conservation and enhance the profile of this important bird area. The initiative aims to develop the project as an ecosystem model managed and owned by the community. Besides living alongside birds for several centuries, the people of this village have also come together and rejuvenated many smaller wetlands in and around the village resulting in an increase of foraging sites for birds.
The Interpretation Centre is a journey through the lives of these beautiful birds and their amazing friends and the information has been creatively packaged and disseminated through various panels, wall paintings, life size models of important birds of the area and interactive exhibits, making it interesting and informative for visitors. To be maintained jointly by The Hejjare Belaga, Panchayat, Department of Tourism, Forest Department and WWF-India for three years while also working towards mitigation of threats to birds and their habitats, the partnership will further strengthen the knowledge base on the ecosystem in Kokkarebellur, highlighting the significance of and the threats to the biodiversity, and allied individual and collective actions that can contribute to conservation with an endeavor to motivate and sustain efforts towards the heronry’s conservation.
WWF-India also released “Birds of Kunigal / Kokkarebellur”, a handbook on birds of the region, aiming to build awareness among local community members and tourists on the range of avian species present in the region and the need to conserve these species.
Inaugurating the centre, Shri. Ziyaullah complemented and honoured the local community of Kokkarebellur for their passionate commitment to conservation of the age old pelicanary said, “Kokkarebellur represents a unique model of partnership between the communities; government departments and civil society. The Government of Karnataka will work towards enhancing the profile of this important community reserve and promote it as a unique ecotourism destination in Karnataka.” Kokkarebellur is one of the 21 breeding sites of the spot-billed pelicans, a near threatened species, in South India.
Mr. Subir Mehra, Head – Operations, Global Service Centres, HSBC, said, “The success of HSBC Water Programme lies in the positive impact it has on the communities it touches. The credit for the change we see in Kunigal and Kokkarebellur goes to the unfailing commitment shown by HSBC colleagues — over the past three years 917 of them have volunteered almost nine thousand hours to make it happen. I take this opportunity to thank WWF-India for their partnership that provides opportunities for our employees to support community programmes.”
Mr. Ravi Singh, Secretary General and CEO, WWF-India said, “The Interpretation Centre at Kokkarebellur is a wonderful opportunity for insight to the biodiversity of the region. Famous for its spot-billed pelicans and painted storks, Kokkarebellur is known for the co-existence of the birds with the local community. Working in partnership with the government, HSBC and other organizations, we hope that initiatives like these go a long way in building awareness of the importance of such areas and inspire people to play an integral role in conserving biodiversity across the country.”
Smt. Lakshmi Swamy, President, Gram Panchayat, Kokkarebellur said that “The birds are a part of our lives; the interpretation centre is expected to open up new avenues for revenue generation for conservation. We are excited and are ready to become a hub for eco-tourism.” She urged the people to visit the centre and carry on with the conservation efforts.
WWF-India under the HSBC Water Programme and the Aardhrabhumi- Wetlands for Life (AWFL) programme is working on wetland rejuvenation as part of the conservation initiatives in the region. As part of the project, WWF-India has taken up the conservation of two peri-urban wetlands near Bangalore to reverse the loss of biodiversity, and improve ecological conditions while improving the well-being of local communities through natural resource-based livelihood. WWF-India’s Aardhrabhumi Programme’s conservation initiatives in the region are designed to mitigate threats from various anthropogenic pressures like water intensive agricultural practices, over-abstraction of groundwater and felling of trees for infrastructural expansion, which are detrimental to the health of water sources and biodiversity in the region. The conservation initiatives also provide community engagement opportunities to rekindle the connection to the birds through regular awareness building programmes and the establishment of a revamped Nature Interpretation Center.
About HSBC India
The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited in India offers a full range of banking and financial services through 26 branches across 14 cities. HSBC is one of India's leading financial services groups, with over 37,000 employees in its banking, investment banking and capital markets, asset management, insurance, software development and global resourcing operations in the country. It is a leading custodian in India. Nearly 6% of India's trade passes through HSBC. The Bank is at the forefront in arranging deals for Indian companies investing overseas and foreign investments into the country.
The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited
The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited is the founding member of the HSBC Group, which serves more than 37 million customers through four global businesses: Retail Banking and Wealth Management, Commercial Banking, Global Banking and Markets, and Global Private Banking. The Group serves customers worldwide from around 4,000 offices in 70 countries and territories in Europe, Asia, North and Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa. With assets of US$2,416bn at 31 March 2017, HSBC is one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organisations.
About HSBC Water Programme
Launched in 2012, this is an eight-year, US$150m programme in partnership with Earthwatch, WaterAid and WWF and local. It aims to provide and protect water sources, inform and educate communities in need, enabling people to prosper and driving economic development across the world. HSBC has chosen to invest its time and resources in the HSBC Water Programme because water is vital to building healthy communities and developing national economies.
By the end of 2016, the achievements of the programme include providing 1.6 million people with safe water and 2.5 million people with better sanitation; helping protect 527,411 hectares of wetland and 1,826 kilometers of river; teaching 170,995 people how to reduce the impact of farming and fishing on freshwater sources; and training more than 8,000 HSBC employees as Citizen Scientists so that they can test the quality of freshwater in their area.
In Bangalore, apart from the Aardhrabhumi – Wetlands for Life Project, HSBC Water Programme has also supported ‘Sachetana Drinking Water Project’ that aims to ensure the availability of fluoride-free safe drinking water via Rain Water Harvesting to 1100 households of 12 villages in Madhugirri Taluk in Tumkur District.
For more information, please contact:
Mr. Suresh Babu
Director - Rivers Wetlands and Water Policy, WWF India
Mobile: +91 9818997999
Mr. Aman Ullah
Head - Communications, HSBC India
Mobile: 022 - 22 22681046
E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org