Other States

COVID-19 scare causes egret chicks’ deaths in Assam’s Tangla

A complaint based on a “theory” that bird droppings spread COVID-19 has resulted in the death of scores of egret chicks in northern Assam’s Udalguri district.

The executive officer of the municipal board in Tangla town, on June 8, served a notice each to five persons of Ward Number 1.

The notice to Mahendra Deka, Amiyo Narzary, Rajat Bhattacharjee, Lokjit Sutar and Geetika Das read: “Your neighbours have complained that the egrets nesting on your bamboo groves are destroying the environment with their urine and droppings. This can spread corona infection too. You are thereby asked to cut down the bamboo groves for a cleaner, healthier surrounding.”

On June 24, the municipal board sent a few men to chop the bamboo groves on Lokjit Sutar’s land. The egret nests came crashing down, killing scores of chicks.

Locals said about 300 chicks died before wildlife activists could bring the gravity of the municipal board’s action to the notice of the district authorities.

A severe crime

“Destroying of habitat and nests of birds are treated as severe crime under Wildlife Protection Act 1972. If bird droppings threaten public health, then the Tangla Municipality Board should regularly clean the ground instead of threatening the landowners, who did not invite the birds. The birds are not pets either,” Dilwar Hussain, member of central Assam’s Laokhowa Burhachapori Wildlife Conservation Society in central Assam’s Nagaon district, wrote in an email to the Udalguri authorities.

“Let the municipal board make alternative arrangements for the birds to nest in a suitable place and serve notice to the birds to vacate the municipality area,” he said.

Udalguri Deputy Commissioner P. Uday Praveen said he had asked the municipal authorities to stop hewing down any more trees or bamboo groves and ensure no birds are harmed.

“We have asked the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation [CWRC, Kaziranga] to rescue the chicks and have arranged vehicles for their transportation. A report has also been sought on the unfortunate incident,” he told The Hindu.

CWRC veterinarian Shamsul Ali said they managed to rescue about 100 chicks.

“But taking in fledglings and nestlings for rehabilitation will never be a solution. They would have grown under the care of their mothers without stress,” he said.

The municipal body reportedly did not inform the local Forest Department before undertaking the exercise to cut down the egrets’ nests.

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Printable version | Jul 26, 2021 11:00:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/covid-19-scare-causes-egret-chicks-deaths-in-assams-tangla/article34963030.ece

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