Vazra sakla – A symbol of field conservation

The lifeline of our region, the river Valvanti originates in the forests of Chorla and flows through the forest areas to cascade down later as the Vazra Sakla falls. These 143 meter falls have given fame and name to our land and sustain our farms and plantations.

The region is home to tigers, leopards, gaur, chital, sloth bear, critically-endangered bats and scores of other species, the Bhimgad WLS and its reserve forsests is spread across 191 sq. km. in Khanapur taluka, Belgaum district in northern Karnataka i.e Khanapur taluka. It is perhaps the only forested taluka of Belgaum district which is connected to its south with Uttar Kannada, Karnataka’s district with the densest and maximum forest cover. This habitat is contiguous with the Anshi National Park, Dandeli WLS, Bhagwan Mahavir National WLS, Cotigao WLS, Mhadei WLS and Netravali WLS and the Tiger corridor of Sindhudurg district, Maharashtra and is part of a crucial biodiversity vault of the threatened Western Ghats.

This entire region is sustained and supported by the Haltar nallah, the Kalsa Bhandura nallah and their tributaries, along with the Mhadei river and its tributaries.

This area will be affected due to diversion of waters by the Haltar nallah diversion and the Kalsa Bhandura nallah diversion. It is however a confirmed king cobra habitat, with densities comparable to other Western Ghats habitats. The water network of these forests support densities of this world’s largest venomous snake. The king cobra is also considered as one of the flagship species of rainforests in the world. Any scarcity of water will impact these fragile eco systems and their denizens.

It is a niche habitat to lesser-known endemic mammals of the Western Ghats of India including the brown civet and the small Indian Travancore flying squirrel. These waters of the Haltar nullah and the Surla rivers sustain multi canopy forests that are crucial to the survival of these charismatic and yet hitherto lesser-known mammals of the Western Ghats.

Long term surveys have helped identify and protect habitat of the critically endangered Long Billed Vulture. This habitat is the area where the falls cascade down the valley. Water from these falls is crucial for the moisture to be created near the nesting site. Monitoring this Nesting site of this species is an ongoing process.

A treasure trove of amphibian diversity, researchers from the Mhadei Research Center have recently discovered the Mhadei caecilian, a new species of amphibian to the world of science in this habitat. Amphibian researchers strongly believe that many more species await discovery in these wet evergreen and mixed moist deciduous forests and efforts to conserve these waterfalls and the areas  sustained by them will be a boon to science.