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Location India, Karnataka
Central coordinates 77o 5.30' East  12o 30.62' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i
Area 38 ha
Altitude 0
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society



Site description Kokkare Bellur is situated about 80 km from Bangalore in Maddur taluk of Mandya district. A small perennial river called Shimsha runs nearby. From December to June, hundreds of Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis and Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala move from the lakes of south India to establish breeding colonies on the tall trees in the very heart of the village. Over the next six months, bird and man co-exist peacefully, it is as if the entire village has acquired a second storey. ‘Upstairs’ the birds court, mate and rear their young ones, and ‘below’, the life for the people of the village goes on. Even in the midst of wedding celebrations, when loudspeakers blast music all over the village, the raucous sounds of the birds, the quiver of heavy wings and the clatter of stork bills continue unaffected (Manu and Jolly 2000). Nobody quite knows why the storks and pelicans, both exclusively fish-eaters, continue to breed in Kokkare Bellur, which is several kilometres away from any substantial waterbody. What is certain, however, is that both species have been coming here to breed for generations; village legends put it at well over hundreds of years. The very name of the place, ‘Kokkare’ meaning stork bears this out. This must surely be a reference to the original village of Kokkare Bellur which dates back several hundred years.A herostone, dug up in a villager’s field in 1974, commemorates the death of an inhabitant of Bellur (presumably someone prominent) after a hunting accident. After a plague in 1916, the old village was abandoned and the population resettled a couple of kilometres from the river. Apparently, the birds came too. Possibly the Shimsha, today a fast-flowing, shallow river (due to uncontrolled sand-dredging on the banks), was then deep and slow moving and offered a foraging site for the pelicans. Today, the birds feed at the abundant lakes and irrigation tanks up to 100 km from the village (Manu and Jolly 2000). Main tanks are Sule Kere, Malavalli Kere, Koppe Kere, Marehalli Kere, Shetty Kere and Karanji Kere. According to Saxena (1980) the pelicans arrive first (by November) to settle on the crowns of mature, large-canopied trees. The lighter, more agile, storks come a few weeks later (by December/January), taking up residence on the outer branches. They also colonize smaller trees, which are too flimsy for the pelicans. There are only a dozen known breeding sites of Grey Pelicans left in India and Kokkare Bellur is one of the most significant sites. Kokkare Bellur is a typical dry land village with cultivated and fallow fields, cactus hedges and trees, both old and young, in the fields and in the village.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis resident  2004  present  A1  Near Threatened 
White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 

Local conservation groups The local conservation group below is working to support conservation at this IBA.

Name Year formed
"Hejjarle Belaga". Kokkare Bellur, Mysore Amateur Naturalists (MAN) 0

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest   -
Shrubland   -
Wetlands (inland)   -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
Notes: Agriculture
nature conservation and research -
Notes: Nature conservation and research

Acknowledgements Key contributors: K. Manu and V. Kannan.

References 

Manu, K. and Jolly, S. (2000) Pelicans and People: The Two-Tier Village of Kokkare Bellur, Karnataka, India, Kalpavriksh, New Delhi. Pp. viii+33.

Saxena, V. S. (1980) Kokkare Bellur Pelecanry. Cheetal 21(4): 20 - 24.

Subramanya, S. and Manu, K. (1996) Saving the Spot-billed Pelican: a successful experiment. Hornbill 1996(2): 2-6.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Kokkare Bellur. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 30/09/2014

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