Point Calimere – tracing the blackbucks

It was to protect the near-threatened blackbuck, one of India’s endemic mammals, that this coastal sanctuary in Tamil Nadu was established nearly half a century ago (in 1967); that resulted in the doubling of said antelope’s population in 30 years. The December 2004 tsunami left the sanctuary under four feet of seawater and destroyed a Chola-age lighthouse, but without any lasting loss of wildlife. Point Calimere is also the spectacular site of the second-largest congregation of migratory waterbirds in India, including rare and threatened species like the Spot-billed Pelican and Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Point Cali-mere encompasses 17.26 sqKm of sandy coast fringed by saline swamps and thorny scrub around the backwaters. The sanctuary is located in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu and 105 kms from Thanjavur.

The Sanctuary’s habitat is unique consisting of freshwater, saltmashes, brackish lagoons, mud flats, saltpans, coastal beaches, mangrove forests, grasslands and dry evergreen vegetation. Black bucks can be sighted frequently and they are seen grazing in the open grassland area. Other species in the sanctuary includes Spotted deer, Jackal, Civet, Wild boar, Jungle Cat, Bonnet Macaque, Blacknaped Hare and the Common Indian Mongoose. A notable feature of the sanctuary is the presence of feral horses.

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