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What Makes Odisha’s Mangalajodi an Exemplary Ecotourism Destination?

Nestled along the serene northern banks of Chilika Lake is Mangalajodi, a destination so unique and wonderful, an exemplary place to say the least. Odisha’s Mangalajodi village may look unremarkable in the first glance, yet it is anything but that. Mangalajodi, is a hidden gem for nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers.

But so are many places in India. What makes Mangalajodi so special?

This unassuming village is an exemplary ecotourism destination, and the villagers are the strongest reason behind this. Mangalajodi is renowned for its rich biodiversity, conservation efforts, and the harmonious coexistence of humans and nature.

What makes Odisha’s Mangalajodi an exemplary ecotourism destination?Photo courtesy: CanvaLike most success stories, Mangalajodi had its share of “dark days”. It was not too long ago that the waters surrounding Mangalajodi witnessed as low as 5000 birds. For those who are unaware, Mangalajodi is a wetland area and is one of the places that receives millions of migratory birds each year. A number as low as 5000 is way too alarming for a wetland. But what caused this dip in numbers?

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The villagers of Mangalajodi were once infamously poaching waterbirds, even the eggs of these migratory and resident birds were not spared. It was easy for the villagers to do so because of the sheer number of birds that came there every year. You see, the village is located on the fringes of Chilika Lake, the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest in the world. This unique ecosystem is home to an astonishing diversity of flora and fauna. Mangalajodi’s wetlands, replete with lush vegetation and water bodies, provided a sanctuary for numerous species of birds, fish, and other wildlife.

What makes Odisha’s Mangalajodi an exemplary ecotourism destination?Photo courtesy: CanvaUnchecked poaching ultimately brought down the number to just a few thousands of birds.

Timely intervention of wildlife organisations dedicated to conserving nature and communities led to the locals realising what harm they were doing to nature. Under the right guidance of concerned authorities, the villagers understood the concept of conservation and opened up to the idea of ecotourism, a path that was beneficial to both the parties involved – nature and humans.

Once known for illegal bird hunting and poaching, the villagers of Mangalajodi were now the guardians of the ecosystem. These same villagers that were once poachers, became birding guides. Once a poachers’ village, Mangalajodi was now a community-based conservation model. Whatever revenue was generated from ecotourism activities was channelled back into the local community, which eventually supported sectors such as education, healthcare, and infrastructure development.

What makes Odisha’s Mangalajodi an exemplary ecotourism destination?Photo courtesy: CanvaToday, Mangalajodi is a seasonal haven for migratory birds. Every winter, the wetlands and marshes are abuzz with the arrival of thousands of migratory birds. Some come from lands as far away as Siberia, Central Asia, and Europe. Now, if you visit Mangalajodi, you will have guided birding tours, boat safaris, interactions with the locals, and plenty of excellent photography opportunities.

Source : Times of India