Spread over 38.40 hectares, Vettangudi is said to be the oldest bird sanctuary in southern Tamil Nadu, and home to roughly 20 migrant varieties, ranging from the common storks, ibis, grebes, egrets, herons and cormorants to comparatively rarer ones such as the yellow wattle lapwing and lesser whistling duck.
So many birds might not have flocked here were it not for an unusual gesture on the part of the Kollukudipatti villagers.
Some three decades ago, the village decided to stop bursting firecrackers during Diwali. “We noticed chicks falling out of their nests disturbed by the loud sounds. We discussed it at panchayat meetings and imposed an informal rule forbidding firecrackers,” says P. Arumugam, former Panchayat president. At first, the youngsters rebelled. But soon, it became a self-imposed habit. “Today, not a single person in the village bursts firecrackers,” says Arumugam.