Researchers call for systemic survey of Dhamapur lake area for conservation

Researchers conducted a rapid taxa survey in the area.

Credit : Indie Journal

To promote conservation activity and sustainable tourism in the area around Dhamapur lake in Maharashtra’s Sindhudurg district, experts have called for a systematic study of the biodiversity of the region. Nestled amidst the Western Ghats and rich biodiversity, several areas in the district still remain unexplored and vulnerable to the threats of mining and unplanned developmental and tourist activities. A group of experts who were part of the Dragonfly SouthAsia meet, conducted at Dhamapur Lake and surrounding freshwater habitats, conducted a rapid survey of the area over four days with public participation.

“In total, 61 odonates, 51 butterflies, 17 species of amphibians and reptiles, 90 birds, and four mammals are documented,” states the report ‘Rapid multi-taxa assessment around Dhamapur Lake (Sindhudurg, Maharashtra, India) using citizen science reveals significant odonate records’ by experts Neha Mujumdar, Dattaprasad Sawant, Amila Sumanapala, Parag Rangnekar and Pankaj Koparde published in the Journal of Threatened Taxa. 

Systematic Study for Conservation

“The rapid survey was conducted within just four days, however, we had many eyes on the field. Citizen science is a very handy tool in recording such observations, and the records are further verified by the experts in the field,” said Neha Mujumdar, a scientist at the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), who is also the lead author of the paper.

Insisting on in-depth research in the region, the scientist added, “The place has a cultural significance as the lake is very old, and a temple is situated right next to the lake. Tourists coming to the surrounding popular tourist spots like Malvan visit Dhamapur Lake, and thus, there is a greater possibility of increased disturbance in the area. Systematic research will throw light on the importance of the biodiversity present in the area. It will help make the case for conservation.”

In fact, the local population as well as experts and activists in the region have been fighting for the conservation of the area in face of the proposed infrastructure for tourism. Around two years ago, green activists had moved to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) against the proposed diesel boats and skywalks over the lake.


Photo: Dattaprasad Sawant


Local Activist and Expertise

A community center for experiential learning in Dhamapur, Samyantak University of Life, has played a major role in the conservation of the Dhamapur Lake. It was after the persuasion and research by the Institute, that the process of creating wetland briefs for Dhamapur, as well as other wetlands in Sindhudurg district, began. 

“Dhamapur Lake is a manmade lake built in the year 1503. This 500-year-old lake was created with the wisdom of the villagers, and supplies water to the residential area up to around eight to 10 km, for drinking as well as irrigation purposes,” said Sachin Desai, Samyantak’s Co-founder.

Integrated Approach to Conservation

“We conduct the DSA Meets in different places with rich biodiversity every year. Last year, we met at Dhamapur, which is relatively lesser-known, but where the local people were known to have been part of the conservation. During our four days there, we saw much more to the area than dragonflies and damselflies. We also saw birds, butterflies, and mammals apart from odonates,” Mujumdar said.

She added that birds are the most studied taxa in the world, followed by butterflies, of course, due to their charismatic nature. “People connect with birds, butterflies, they also connect with dragonflies. These are the species that we see around us more often, we have memories attached to them. Hence, it is easier to make people aware of their conservation. If people can relate to these species, they can be educated towards conserving their habitats. This will help more species than what meets the eye,” Mujumdar.