Saturday, May 18, 2024


Asia: Conservationists Evict Dinosaurs from Island in India

Plans for a replica ‘Jurassic Park’-style attraction on a tropical island in India’s Chilika Lake have been quashed over environmental concerns.

(Chadheihaga Island in Lake Chilika)

Efforts by a well-meaning tourism organization in the Indian district of Odisha have had local environmentalists concerned about the health of a small island. The development in question was not, as one would expect, a resort – but an array of 34 large replica dinosaurs. Opponents feared that the herd of Jurassic Park-style dinos would pose a hazard to the many birds that nest on Chadheihaga Island, a famously beautiful spot on Chilika Lake.

Found along the country’s northeastern coast by the Bay of Bengal, Chilika Lake is a vast lagoon with an incredible amount of biodiversity – especially of the avian persuasion. The second-largest lagoon in the world, its waters spread over 1,100 square kilometres, providing a home for more than 150 species of migratory birds. In particular, Chadheihaga Island’s grassy hills and rocky shores are a valued habitat for birds like flamingos, pelicans and eagles, as well as butterflies and rare fauna.

The idea of erecting the dinosaur statues – which, in all fairness, are apparently made of a non-polluting fibre – was that of the Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC), who were aiming to celebrate the Lake Chilika area’s fossil-rich geological history and draw in more tourists. What the group hadn’t counted on, however, was the intense backlash from nature-loving fans of the island in its pristine state.

The India Times quoted Shatkti Nanda, a local conservationist, as saying that the area’s native charms should be enough to draw visitors. “Has the lake lost all its natural beauty that we need an artificial park to attract tourists to the spot, and at what cost? The government should have done a feasibility and ecological study of the lagoon before going ahead with the project,” she said.

(Rare White Ibis take flight at Lake Chilika)

Another opponent, ornithologist Gahar Abedin, said that the impact of the statues could be far greater than most would think. “The island comes under the Coastal Regulation Zone 1 under which no alteration or construction is allowed in such areas that may disturb or completely destroy the complex ecology of the place,” he told the paper.

The lone current dinosaur statue is now being dismantled by park services, and plans have been scrapped for the additional menagerie. In lieu of a Jurassic Park, the OTCD has opted for a far more earth-friendly network of paths across the island, to make tours and visits by bird-lovers easier. Interestingly, social networks played a big part in protecting the island – a widespread campaign by conservation groups gained the attention of top government officials.

While the fibre dinosaur no longer has a home on Chadheihaga Island, it will not be doomed to extinction – the statue will be resurrected at a nearby park on the shore of Lake Chilika.

Read more about this story: Times of India


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