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Rangananthittu is one of the oldest bird sanctuaries of India, having been established in 1940 by the Maharaja of Mysore on the suggestion of Dr. Salim Ali. In independent India, it was officially declared only in 1980. It is situated about 16 km from Mysore, just off the Mysore-Srirangapatnam road. A weir built in the 17th century by the ruler of Mysore across the River Kaveri has impounded water that is carried through an aqueduct to Srirangapatnam. The impounded water forms a large and deep reservoir with a number of islets, which provide good nesting habitat for birds. The Sanctuary is surrounded by irrigated agricultural fields where many birds forage. The flora is mainly riverine vegetation with Salix sp., Terminalia arjuna, Vitex sp., Pongamia pinnata, Ficus sp., Pithecolobium dulce, Pandanus tectorius, Caesalpinia bonducella, bamboos and sedges.
AVIFAUNA: The Sanctuary has a spectacular congregation of waterfowl and waders. At least 15 waterbirds breed at Rangananthittu: Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans, Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala, Large Egret Ardea alba, Median Egret Egretta intermedia, Little Egret E. garzetta, White Ibis or Black-headed Ibis Threskiornis melanocephala, Large Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo, Indian Shag P. fuscicollis, Little Cormorant P. niger, Darter Anhinga melanogaster, Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax, Pond Heron Ardeola grayii, Purple Heron Ardea purpurea, Great Stone Plover Esacus magnirostris, and the Indian River Tern Sterna aurantia. Neginhal (1983) reported that about 200 pairs of Asian Openbill nest in Ranganathittu. He did not mention nesting by the Painted Stork. This stork was first seen in 1993, attempting to breed. By 2000, about 2,300 breeding pairs had taken over the colony (Thejaswi, undated), which is perhaps the largest nesting colony of Painted Stork in south India. Owing to its density and diversity of birds, this IBA has been listed as one of the top heronries in India by Subramanya (1996). Ranganathittu does not have records of many threatened species, except for some sightings of Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga in winter, and an occasional Oriental White-backed vulture Gyps bengalensis. The selection of this IBA is based on A4i criteria (A site known or thought to hold, on a regular basis, =1% of a biogeographic population of a congregatory waterbird species). Nesting of more than 2,300 pairs of Painted Stork is much above the 1% threshold (100) of this species determined by Wetlands International (2002). A total of 127 species have been identified from this IBA site, including 18 species listed in Biome-11 but none of them are presently of much conservation concern.
OTHER KEY FAUNA: The terrestrial and arboreal fauna of the Sanctuary includes Mongoose Herpestes edwardsi, Monitor Lizard Varanus bengalensis, Jungle Cat Felis chaus, Indian Flying Fox (Fruit Bats) Pteropus giganteus, Bonnet Macaque Macaca radiata and Palm Civets Paradoxurus hermaphroditus. About 13 species of fishes have been recorded at the site. A very healthy population of Marsh Crocodile Crocodylus palustris exists at the site. A sizeable numbers of Common Otter Lutra lutra can be seen at the site.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Rangananthittu Bird Sanctuary. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 09/07/2020.