Mangalajodi is a small picturesque village on north-western fringe of Chilika Lake in Odisha, known for its marshes and water fowl congregations. Normally, the lake hosts more than 200 species of birds during the peak season, of which around 115 are migratory. The village people’s livelihood is dependent on fishing and other farm based activities. Poaching of birds, was also another activity, in which village people were involved, 2 decades before. Dwindling bird population stimulated various agencies to initiate a concerted effort to reverse the situation.
Now the village:-
Now-a-days, the erstwhile poachers of Mangalajodi village actively patrol and protect birds in the marshes. Born in the lap of nature, they monitor the bird population, co-ordinate with the forest department, assist in research and take tourists around on birding trips. Protection has saved not only birds, but also benefited its rich biodiversity, including among others, fishes, snakes, monitor lizards and the rare fishing cats. Mangalajodi now hosts more than 150,000 birds in the peak season of November to January and has been designated as an ‘Important Bird Area’ by Birdlife International for its importance as a significant global waterfowl habitat. Community managed and owned Mangalajodi Ecotourism Trust (www.mangalajodiecotourism.com) hosts tourism and managed the destination.
What to do at Mangalajodi:-
- Birding from the Watch Towers: Mangalajodi is nearest place from Bhubaneswar to see birds in Chilika. It is also the place offering Birding from closest distance possible;
- Guided hand sailing Boat ride on special routes to spot birds: Knowledge of Birds, their migratory patterns and breeding cycles from poachers-turned-ecoguides.
- Taste local cuisines which are prepared and offered at village.
- Hear the story “Poachers to Protectors” from the locals;
- Also enjoyed the village learning activities like bamboo product making, net making etc.
As an Eco Tourist, your experience will be enriching, if you keep the following in mind:
- Do not litter in and around the lake. Dispose all non-degradable litter such as empty bottles, tins, plastic bags etc. in dustbins only.
- Respect people’s privacy while taking photographs. Ask for prior permission before taking photograph.
- Smoking & Drinking are prohibited.
- Respect the local cultures. Pay particular attention to customs such as greetings, being sensitive to these customs.
- Seek out and support locally owned businesses. Give a fair price to rural produce by buying local.
- Following “Birding Rules & Ethics” displayed at Mangalajodi Visitor Centre. Violation of Rules will invite severe penalty.
How to reach Mangalajodi:- Mangalajodi is approx. 75 Kms from Bhubaneswar en route to Chennai on NH-5. Bhubaneswar is well connected by air and train. Nearest Bus stand is ChandpurTangi. Nearest Railway stations are KalupadaGhat and Mukteswar PH.
How it is possible:-
Since 2010, RBS FI and IGS got associated for this conservation based livelihood project. In initial phase, one informal committee named Sri MahavirPakshiSurakhyaSamiti was set up to protect the wetland and birds. Later on, it also focussed on promoting and managing responsible tourism. However, due to formation of various interest groups and weak leadership, conflicts emerged. Ultimately, it led to its division and the larger break-away group created a new committee named Mangalajodi Ecotourism Trust with other like-minded people of the village. IGS started working with Mangalajodi Ecotourism Trust, to make them more responsible towards the eco system and development of community as a whole with a special focus on establishing the tourism enterprise, which will provide them with alternative livelihood opportunities. Trustees were involved since inception to ensure their ownership and capacity enhancement. The implementation team put lots of efforts in resolving the internal conflicts. The team enabled the members to have a common vision to move ahead. A series of board meetings were held to achieve this.
Awards & Recognitions:-
|Sl. No||Name of the Award||Source||Purpose/ Occasion||Received by whom||Date|
|Indian Responsible Tourism Awards (IRTA) on Best Wildlife Stays at Chilika||Outlook Traveller||IRT Awards and Summit||MET||Jan 31, 2019|
|Chilika Bird Festival Award||Odisha Tourism and Chilika Development Authority (CDA)||2ndChilika Bird Festival||MET||Jan 27, 2019|
|UNWTO Awards on Innovation in Enterprise||United Nations World Tourism Organisation||14th UNWTO Awards and Summit||MET||Jan 19, 2018|
|State level Award||Chilika Development Authority (CDA)||World Wetland Day celebration in 2016||MET||Feb 02, 2016|
|BijuPatnaik award for Wildlife conservation||Department of Forest and Environment, Govt. of Odisha||Forest protection and Conservation||Mr Sukant Ku Jena, Secretary, MET||October 2015|
|NVA Fellowship||Jamsedji Tata National Virtual Academy||For his invaluable service to the cause of spreading a knowledge Revolution in Rural India||Mr Purna Chandra Behera||Feb 2015|
|Participation in the workshop on Prioritising Sustainable Ecotourism in Odisha||Odisha Forest Development Corporation (OFDC) in association with Forest & Environment Dept. Govt. of Odisha||Workshop on Prioritising Sustainable Ecotourism in Odisha||Mr Niranjan Prasad Behera, Member||Dec 27, 2014|
|Runner up India Bio-Diversity Award-2014||Govt. of India, UNDP||For Community Stewardship Category||MET||2014|
|RBS Earth Guardian Award (Celebrating unsung heroes)||RBS Foundation||Wild life and Environment conservation in Mangalajodi wetlands||MET||Oct 14, 2012|
|Certificate of Participation||United Way of Hyderabad||Participation in SEVA Mela||MET||2012|
|Participation in KarmyogSevaMela||Joy of Giving||KarmyogSevaMela||MET||Oct 8 2011|
|Runner Up – TOFT Wildelife Tourism Award||TOFT||Bird Tourism||MET||2010|
Shashanka Sekhar Dash