Exotic birds are killed; venison is sold at Rs.150 a kg even near police stations

Much to the chagrin of wild animal lovers, many species of exotic birds, mostly from South East Asian countries, have been hunted to extinction in Manipur.

Till a few years back, carcasses of deer, wild goat and various birds were openly sold in most of the five hill districts and neighbouring Nagaland.

Venison was now being sold at Rs.150 a kg in the main markets and even near police stations and Forest Department offices in these districts.

When confronted by journalists, red-faced officials said hunting was a tribal tradition and there was no security for the skeleton staff posted there.

There had been reports that a Chief Minister and his entourage used to relish fresh venison during his tours. Maiba Khul is hardly 8 km from Imphal and it is located on the foothills of some mountains. Fires started by hunters would drive wild animals into the village. Some pregnant hinds rescued by the local youths were handed over to zoo officials. However, many others were killed by dogs and insensitive villagers.

When this correspondent visited a village many horns were found strewn on the roads and grazing grounds. Wildlife lovers say that many animals and birds have now become extinct and that posterity will see them only in picture books.

An accomplished hunter, P. Pamarei (53) of Phungcham village of Ukhrul district bordering Myanmar, is reported to have shot dead a big vulture on Wednesday last and presented it to Khashim Vashum, an independent candidate of the Chingai constituency in the January 28 elections.

A report in a vernacular newspaper said that the bird weighed 13 kg, stood over 4 ft and measured more than 2.5 metres from the tip of one wing to the other.

The hunter said that he lured birds with beef. He had to wait under a tree for 12 hours before killing the bird. The rest had flown towards Myanmar.