Home Conservation News Surveying Sacred Groves In Sindhudurg

Surveying Sacred Groves In Sindhudurg

Surveying Sacred Groves In Sindhudurg

Last week, biologist Prajakjta Pathare, visited Sanctuary’s Mud on Boots Project Leader Malhar Indulkar at his project location Tillari, Sindhudurg.  While Malhar has been constantly working towards protection and conservation of riverine habitat around the Tillari and Terekhol rivers, with a focus on otter conservation  he could not ignore the pristine swathes of the sacred forest that protects and nurtures these classic riverine habitats.

While the district of Sindhudurg holds the highest recorded number of sacred groves in Maharashtra, many of these groves have now lost protection with changes in cultural and traditional values. Out of the 1,499 sacred groves presently identified in Sindhudurg, very few have been thoroughly studied and scientifically assessed. While working closely with the local communities in this area, Malhar felt an urgent need of protecting and creating awareness about these natural assets that are now vulnerable to various anthropogenic pressures.

During their trip, Prajakta and Malhar visited and assessed five sacred groves, two of which serve as a habitat for small-clawed and smooth-coated otters. Each of these five sacred grooves are home to a wide range of indigenous and medicinal plant species. A seasonal stream originates from the Maigawas grove that flows to meet the river Kharadi, a tributary of river Tilliari. Local communities in the area depend on this stream for fishing and a reservoir formed near the river-stream confluence. The area in and around the grove has religious and spiritual significance for the communities. For example, Lord Ganesh’s visarjanghat named ‘Ganeshkondicha Hol’ is constructed on the stream bank that lies to the northern boundary of the grove. The leaves and flowers of plant species such as Saraca asoca and Bambusa sp. are used for making garlands and crowns for the annual temple festivities.

The village of Hewale also owns an extremely rare tropical, freshwater swamp ecosystem, dominated by Myristica trees, which are believed to be amongst the most primitive of flowering plants. There is very little qualitative and quantitative study done on the biodiversity of this swamp. During her visit Prajakta created a rapid assessment of the groove and identified 25 different species of rare and indigenous plants.

The swamp is surrounded by paddy fields and is restricted by fires lit by farmers to burn germinating seeds of Myristica. While Malhar has been creating awareness about this rare ecosystem amongst the villagers and is lobbying for the swamp to be recognised as an important wetland by the National Wetlands Committee, Prajakta has been helping us by playing a crucial role of conducting qualitative assessments and creating scientific data in order to protect and conserve these rare and less studied ecosystems.

The Mud on Boots Project is a programme designed to empower grassroots wildlife conservationists across India. To support wildlife heroes like Malhar, write to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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