Jewels of Ballari – Mahesh P, Venkatesh Naik H and Prakash Karigar
Ballari district is historically known for its rich culture, deposit of iron ore, forests typical of the region and diverse habitats for various species of fauna. The undulating landscape, riverine stretches, hillocks, deciduous and scrub forests, and grasslands make Ballari unique. It is probably the only district in the country to have four protected areas – Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary, Gudekote Sloth Bear Sanctuary, Ankasamudra Bird Conservation Reserve and Tungabhadra Otter Conservation Reserve. The proposed community reserve area for the critically endangered Great Indian Bustard and the adjoining Sandur forest patch attribute to the richness of the Ballari’s natural treasure, creating unique bird habitats.
Birds like the Indian Eagle-Owl, Yellow-throated Bulbul, Painted Spurfowl and Painted Sandgrouse are the pride of Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary and Gudekote Sloth Bear Sanctuary. Together, they are home to over 190 bird species. Ankasamudra Lake, a 244-acre man-made waterbody near the backwaters of the Tungabhadra reservoir, is the preferred nesting ground for many water birds, both resident and migratory.
With such a rich diversity of habitats and species, Ballari is a paradise for birdwatchers, attracting visitors from across the globe. The area has been an inspiration for many individuals to take up birding and bird photography as hobbies. This is also true for many staff members of the Karnataka Forest Department, especially three Dy RFOs – Mahesh P, Venkatesh Naik H and Prakash Karigar. The trio has photographed and documented all the bird species seen in the district and compiled text both in English and Kannada. Considering their efforts, Shri Sidramappa M. Chalkapure, the Deputy Conservator of Forests, Ballari, and Shri Lingaraj S., Chief Conservator of Forests, encouraged them to compile this in the form of a book.
Jewels of Ballari is the first attempt to document photographs of all the bird species of the district. The key feature of this book is simple descriptions of the birds in English and Kannada with high quality photographs. Financial support for the book came from SMIORE. The book is designed and edited by Santosh R Sutar from Vanalok.