A Story of Grassland: Rajarhat

Much like my neighbor site, Patuli, Rajarhat shares the same environment. A grassland, Rajarhat can be called the oxygen hub of New Town, the IT Hub and Residential sector of Kolkata.

People protest, rally against human encroachment in Rain-forests, coastal regions (for oil rigging) and mangroves. These are indeed some very important issues on which we should bang our heads. But we often ignore the green, the potential of grass. A grassland provides insects with plenty of food, insects provide birds. But the basic human nature has to interfere in this food chain. why since we are much superior than birds, insects, animals? A bird is as intelligent and caring as any good human being. Grasslands (and let me name the Wetlands also) are now a rare sight.

Urban Rajarhat and its old residents Photo Credits: Anupam Mukherjee
Urban Rajarhat and its old residents
Photo Credits: Anupam Mukherjee

Why Grasslands are Important for us:

There are several grasslands around the world. Most of them are found in the tropical and sub-tropical countries. Some famous names are Prairies of USA, Steppes of Central Europe, Savannas of Africa, and Pampas of South America.

26% of the earth is covered with Grasslands and 80% of that is used for agricultural purposes.

Zitting Cisticola
Zitting Cisticola

“Grasslands are globally important because they are a natural Carbon Sink and natural carbon sinks are an important part of a natural process called Carbon Cycle.

In the carbon cycle, earth both emits and re-captures and stores large quantities of Carbon Dioxide, also known as CO2, from the earth’s atmosphere thereby keeping the global temperature more or less in balance.”
Grasslands help us to control Green House Gas emissions also. But we never paid heed to this matter. Let the pollution grow in a steady pace along with the population.

Early Morning at Rajarhat Photo Credits: Souranil De
Early Morning at Rajarhat
Photo Credits: Souranil De

What are Wetlands and why are they Important?

Wetland ecosystems are part of our natural wealth. With the global population set to increase to nine billion by 2050, increasing pressure on water resources and the threats posed by climate change, the need to maximize the benefits offered by the Wetland has never been greater or more urgent.

The ‘ecosystem services’ – the benefits people obtain from ecosystems – provided by wetlands include:

  • Flood control
  • Groundwater replenishment
  • Shoreline stabilization & storm protection
  • Sediment & nutrient retention and export
  • Water purification
  • Reservoirs of biodiversity
  • Wetland products
  • Climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Not all wetlands provide all of the services listed above all of the time. Different wetlands provide a range of services according to their type, size and location. Unfortunately, the attraction of short-term, private-sector profits continues to drive the destruction and degradation of wetlands in many parts of the world. In fact, there are worrying signs that wetlands – and the services they provide us with – are being lost at a higher rate than some other ecosystem types.

Grassland suffer from the same fate.

Desert Wheatear A vagrant Migrant Photo Credits: Anupam Mukherjee
Desert Wheatear
A vagrant Migrant
Photo Credits: Anupam Mukherjee

RAJARHAT:

And Rajarhat is a bit of both. It is a Wet Grassland. It has swamps, marshes as well as dry, and long grass protruding the Earth. All most at a human height, these grasslands provide for grasshoppers, insects, butterflies, snakes, Jackals, small passerine birds like Cisticolas, Prinias, Munias, Weavers, Tailorbirds, Skylarks, Bush Larks and waders like Grebes, Teals, Wood Ducks and migratory birds like Wheatears, Pratincoles, Cuckoos, Kestrels.

Tri Colored Munia
Tri Colored Munia
Indian Spotted Eagle Photo Credits: Anupam Mukherjee
Indian Spotted Eagle
Photo Credits: Anupam Mukherjee
Peacock Pansy
Peacock Pansy
Pheasant Tailed Jacana
Pheasant Tailed Jacana

The ecosystem of Rajarhat provides for predators like Vultures, Eagles, Kites and Buzzards. Approximately 30-40 years ago, Kolkata’s dumping grounds and open lands were home to now critically endangered White Rumped Vulture. Now, well, IUCN has declared them Critically Endangered. See the decline here: IUCN STATUS

Scaly Breasted Munia
Scaly Breasted Munia
Locust A farmer's Nightmare
Locust
A farmer’s Nightmare

But, New Town, an adjacent fast growing satellite city, is attracting a handsome number of residents and workers. This migration is demanding new buildings, residential complex, large departmental stores and Malls. And new city comes with entertainment and recreational centres.

Lynx Spider
Lynx Spider

 

But they all need one thing, LAND. And due to this inevitable human encroachment, Rajarhat is losing its importance as a major bio-diversity zone and a ecologically sound habitat; all in the name of so-called development.

 

Plain Prinia
Plain Prinia
Bengal Bush Lark Mirafra assamica
Bengal Bush Lark
Mirafra assamica

People should understand the basic importance of sustainable development. And as a nature lover, it is my ardent request, let us come together, join hands and save our mother.

Red Avadavat Female
Red Avadavat Female
Common Kestrel Winter Migrant Photo credits: Anupam Mukherjee
Common Kestrel
Winter Migrant
Photo credits: Anupam Mukherjee
Jacobin Cuckoo The Harbinger of Rain
Jacobin Cuckoo
The Harbinger of Rain
White Rumped Vulture Photo credits: Anupam Mukherjee
White Rumped Vulture
Photo credits: Anupam Mukherjee
Paddyfield Pipit
Paddyfield Pipit

 

The importance of protecting/conserving grasslands is matched only by our need to have open spaces and breathe clean air. These ecosystems are critical for the health of our natural world. The grasslands provide feeding grounds for all manner of prey and predators and give balance to the world.

Scaly Breasted Munia Juvenile
Scaly Breasted Munia Juvenile

The next time you drive by an open field, give it a second look and be happy to see the grass blowing in the breeze. Whether it is being used for grazing or simply sitting as it is, the fact the land remains as a grassland is a good sign.

Scaly Breasted Munia
Scaly Breasted Munia

 

Acknowledgements:

  1. http://www.wildlifeheritage.org/
  2. http://www.crestonwildlife.ca
  3. Anupam Mukherjee, a friend and nature lover, this guy is also a bird photographer and most of the images are his copyrighted. You can check his beautiful blog at: anupammukherji.wordpress.com
  4. A young mind and a very hard working boy, a nature lover: Souranil De.

18 thoughts on “A Story of Grassland: Rajarhat

    1. Aww. Thanks a bunch Mainak Das da. Yes, I have finally took out the time to write something, maybe not up to a standard level, but yes, a blog post indeed. Stay tuned for more. Share if you care 😀

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  1. I agree with the others. Well-written and a must see for the rest of the world. Our grasslands are quickly disappearing, being replace by monoculture, buildings, or (gasp!!) mostly empty parking lots made of sprawling, soil-sterilizing concrete. It makes my heart sad.

    Your friends’ photos are fantastic and I am astounded at how many of your species of birds look like ours. Cousins, I’m sure! As we are. Cheers, Agnij.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Precisely. I forgot about the parking lots. We don’t have such dedicated parking lots, but the city is thinking about such things. And these poor grasslands have to pay. Such sad affairs.
      The concrete over soil is basically breaking the carbon cycle and decomposition => humification => mineralization is a forgotten concept.
      I would love to see the birds that look similar to some your birds 🙂 The munias are basically finches. We call the munia.

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      1. Look up an Evening Grosbeak for your munia, and the American Pipit, American Kestrel, and Black-billed Cuckoo. As for your Jacana, he is in a class all his own! He must have preferred the balmy Indian coast to our Gulf of Mexico. Our loss to be sure. 😀

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      2. Oh yes.
        Jacanas are beauty and it is sheer delight to watch them fly. I still didn’t get a decent photograph of this bird. The ribbon like tail feathers are the indicators of breeding plumage. And during this time, when they fly, it feels like fairies are roaming around. 😛

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Added a scaly-breasted munia to my annual list…from right here in my own Texas backyard! There are apparently a few small flocks who are surviving the mild winters, purchased and then released (!!!) into the wild at weddings. Being tropical birds, they apparently don’t do very well when the temps drop below freezing. But I got to see one in ‘the wild., very special for me. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Really, in weddings Scaly-Breasted Munias are released, instead of doves or something like that? Never knew. Well good for you that they do, at least you saw them in the wild. 😀 Don’t forget to post a picture.

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      5. He’s about the 26th bird in. I may not post a ‘birdie look back’ on the blog for some time if ever. Life just keeps getting in the way. 😀

        This is the album I’ve been putting into this year. I will start a new one in only a week’s time! Birding is so very challenging and connects us to our world.

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  2. It is a beautiful documentation ….and apart from the equally mesmerising pictures,it was the valuable information that one can take away from it. This is what sets it apart from the rest.The modern civilisation has been ripped off of any sense of humanity . It is all about ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘myself’ ..about ‘who cares!’..and that is probably one of the many reasons why it has become so hard to preserve Grasslands.. So I hope that this initiative of yours ,reaches out to as many people as possible,to make them more aware about the necessity to preserve these places. !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is youngsters like you who can bring a change in the society. While The Netherlands is using solar and wind energy, we are still wasting coals. They fine when a kid drops a paper on road, and we are turning a blind eye to these things that are happening around.
      So, it is up to the next generation to develop in a sustainable manner. We need nature. Nature will be well off without us.
      Thanks for such a lovely feedback Anwesha Roy.

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