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Forest personnel turn Good Samaritans for birds

Kavita Kishore
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Poaching rife in waterbodies that play host to migratory birds

Good SamaritansForest Department officials with the rescued birds in Puducherry.Photo: T. Singaravelou
Good SamaritansForest Department officials with the rescued birds in Puducherry.Photo: T. Singaravelou

The Forest Department on Sunday morning rescued 27 birds that were trapped in a fishing net which was laid across a paddy field in Ariyankuppam and Pudukuppam. The rescued birds were released later in the day. Last week, the Department had rescued around 20 birds, but around 17 of them had died. The poachers break the birds’ legs once they are trapped in the nets, making it very difficult for them to survive. This week, however, they had reached the spot early and all the birds that were rescued survived, Conservator of Forests A. Anil Kumar said.

The Department is now undertaking weekly raids of various areas since it is the breeding season for migratory birds.

Almost all waterbodies in Puducherry are playing host to migratory birds from October till the end of February, and during this time several people poach the birds. The most common migratory birds that come to the paddy fields in this season are the Indian Pond Heron and the Egret.

The paddy fields are also being transplanted this season, which means that there are a lot of insects for the birds to feed on.

Unfortunately, the farmers on whose fields these activities take place are unable to control this poaching. They say that they are being threatened and that the poaching is done by outsiders.

A majority of the complaints of poaching are received from Ariyankuppam and Bahour, he said.

The method employed by the poachers is to trap one or two birds and stitch their eyes shut and tie them to the nets. These “trapping birds” then begin to flap their wings, which attracts the birds that are flying overhead. When these birds come and land on the net, they are trapped, Agricultural Officer of the Forest Department K. Sivakumar said.

This has become a source of income for many youths in the villages. They manage to sell the birds for around Rs. 100 per pair, ignoring the fact that both the Pond Heron and the Egret are Schedule 4 protected species under the Wildlife Act. These birds are close to being endangered and poaching is illegal.

Under the Act, the maximum punishment for poaching of these migratory birds is up to three years imprisonment or Rs. 10,000, or both. The maximum punishment under the Wildlife Act is seven years imprisonment and Rs. 25,000 fine. The Forest Department is taking steps towards arresting the offenders, he said.


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