IN215
Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary and Godavari estuary


Year of compilation: 2004

Site description
Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary is located 20 km south of the port city Kakinada, on the Kakinada-Yanam state highway, nestling on the deltaic branches of Gouthami and Godavari rivers at Kakinada Bay. It has extensive marshes and mangroves. During monsoon, the mudflats get submerged under 5 m of water. These large mudflats, which are subjected to cyclic influx and efflux of tidal water, play a vital role in attracting a large number of waders to this region. About 50% of the area is the backwaters which include a sand bar of about 20 km, running north-south (Rao et al. 1996). Two rivers, namely the Coringa and Gaderu, and their deltaic branches intersect the entire region, along with other water channels draining into them or directly into the sea. This forms about 33,570 ha of marsh vegetation. The Sanctuary is part of the estuary of River Godavari, and supports a rich growth of mangrove vegetation with halophytes such as Excoecaria agallocha, Rhizophora mucronata, Avicennia officinalis, Lumnitzeria racemosa, Ceriops decandra, Sonneratia apetala and Aegiceras corniculatus. According to Raja Sekhar et al. (2002), 24 species are representative of the vegetation structure of Godavari Estuary.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: Rao et al. (1996) have identified 236 species of birds from this Sanctuary. However, they have reported species that are not likely to be present, such as Yellow-throated Bulbul Pycnonotus xantholaemus, Wood Snipe Gallinago nemoricola and Sociable Lapwing Vanellus gregarius. Nevertheless, Coringa is an extremely interesting area for waders and mangrove birds, and should be designated as an IBA (Aasheesh Pittie pers. comm. 2001). More than 20,000 waders use this area in a year. The area needs detailed investigation on its bird life. Oriental White-backed Vulture Gyps bengalensis and Long-billed Vulture G. indicus (both considered Critical due to the sharp decline in their population: BirdLife International 2001) are found here. Among the near threatened species, Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala, Oriental White Ibis Threskiornis melanocephala, and Ferruginous Pochard Aythya nyroca are found in Coringa. Rao et al. (1996) have reported 17 species of ducks, and 37 species of waders of Family Charadridae. Even though some species need to be confirmed, the site still holds a very high diversity of waterbirds.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: A fair population of Fishing Cat Felis viverrina, Golden Jackal Canis aureus, sea turtles and Salt water Crocodile Crocodylus porosus are present in Coringa. This IBA has a large breeding population of otters. In fact, the entire estuarine mangrove forest of Godavari river is a stronghold of otters, mainly Smooth Indian Otter Lutra perspicillata (Nagulu et al. 1991, 1999). The sighting of otters in this IBA is very common, and the group size ranges from 2 to 12, indicating healthy breeding populations (S. A. Hussain in litt. 2003).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
MAIN THREATS: Deforestation; Habitat destruction; Poaching; Unsustainable exploitation of forest resources; Livestock grazing; Fuelwood collection.

Despite their remoteness and difficulties in accessibility, the mangroves of Coringa are heavily exploited by the local people. In a socio-economic study, Collin et al. (2002) found that 95% of the fishermen of Ramananpalem village harvest wood in the mangroves and transport it by boat, usually while returning from fishing. Among the seven mangrove species collected for fuelwood, Avicennia marina and A. officinalis are preferred. The survey confirmed the villagers’ high dependency on the mangrove forest for their basic needs. Increased poaching and habitat destruction has imperilled the existence of otters in the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary. The Forest Department is reported to have initiated steps for the conservation of otters and for the afforestation of mangroves in the Sanctuary. With the increasing industrialisation of the entire Godavari delta, and increasing aquaculture activities and fishing pressure, the survival of this isolated population of otters in Coringa is at stake (Hussain 1999).

Acknowledgements
Key contributors: S. A. Hussain and Aasheesh Pittie.


Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary and Godavari estuary. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 21/05/2022.