Andhra gets a tourism spot in Coringa wildlife sanctuary

By Express News Service

RAJAMAHENDRAVARAM: With the State government developing Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary as an ecotourism spot, the number of visitors to the sanctuary has been on the rise. The Coringa Sanctuary is the second-largest stretch of mangroves along the East Coast, with a unique ecosystem, flora and fauna, rare mangrove species, as also otter, fishing cat, sea turtles etc.

It boasts of nearly 269 species of birds, of which 95 are migratory birds from Eastern Europe, Central and North Asia, flying in through the Central Asian Flyway. Some 78,000 to 88,000 water birds and 21 threatened bird species are located in the sanctuary known also as a ‘marine protected’ area. Hope Island and Sacramento Island are important nesting sites for globally threatened Olive Ridley turtles and green turtles and a good site for over 200 breeding fin and shell fish species.

According to East Godavari Riverine Estuarine Ecosystem (EGREE) Foundation, the area is rich in flora and fauna diversity and generates significant ecological and economic benefits such as shoreline protection, sustaining livelihoods and others. It protects Kakinada region from natural calamities like cyclones, storms, tsunamis and coastal erosions.

Coringa Sanctuary and the mangroves are spread over 235 sq km. Coringa was declared a sanctuary in 1978, to protect the natural mangrove vegetation. The mangrove plants have been categorised into 35 species that belong to a group of 24 families.

The sanctuary is part of the mangroves which you can visit on a boat. It is formed in the delta and estuary region of Godavari river which merges into the Bay of Bengal here. It is located in the backwaters of the sea. Another interesting fact is that Coringa sanctuary has an 18-km-long sand pit in the northeastern side where, seasonally, the endangered Olive Ridley turtles come to rest.

At Coringa sanctuary, one can walk through a serene forest area over walkways made of wooden planks spotting birds and listening to bird songs - one can find the experience exhilarating. Take a boat and you can glide through the tranquil waters spotting birds on the banks and enjoying the scenic views. Many of the birds here are migratory ones, including seagulls, flamingoes, pond heron, grey heron, sandpiper, little egrets, red-wattled lapwing, blue kingfisher, pied kingfisher, Brahmini kites, little cormorant, reef heron, crow pheasant, black-capped kingfisher, etc. The critically endangered white-back vulture and long-billed vulture also find a home here. Speaking to TNIE, Forest Department PRO Deekshitula Subrahmanyam said around 800 visit the sanctuary on a daily basis.

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