Fewer airguns attract ‘Chinese’ visitor to Arunachal

The migratory Mandarin duck has been sighted in a man-made lake in Ziro Valley

March 16, 2022 06:31 pm | Updated 06:31 pm IST - GUWAHATI

Mandarin Duck. File

Mandarin Duck. File | Photo Credit: AFP

A campaign to give up airguns and other firearms used for hunting has made a ‘Chinese’ visitor return to Arunachal Pradesh after a year.

Considered the world’s most colourful waterfowl, the Mandarin duck is a migratory bird native to east Asia, primarily China. The bird was sighted on the man-made Siikhe Lake in the Lower Subansiri district’s Ziro Valley on March 12.

The bird’s second visit after February 20, 2021, has enthused wildlife officials in a State where hunting — a way of life for many — had put the fauna under stress.

“We see a pattern in the Mandarin duck visiting the three-hectare Siikhe Lake with the common teals. This was the combination when the ducks came last year in Ziro, Dirang [western Arunachal Pradesh] and Maguri-Motapung wetland in Assam last year,” Abhinav Kumar, Divisional Forest Officer of the Hapoli Forest Division, told The Hindu.

Innovative schemes

He attributed the sighting by Koj Mama, member of a local conservation-based NGO, Ngunu Ziro, to the Arunachal Pradesh government’s innovative schemes such as the airgun surrender abhiyan to conserve bird species.

Launched more than a year ago, the abhiyan has led to people in the State giving up more than 2,000 airguns and other firearms.

Apart from the Mandarin duck and common teal, forest officials found the Eurasian widgeon and falcated duck on the lake that was commissioned in 2018 as a water conservation project.

“The arrival of the Mandarin duck in two consecutive years indicates that the Siikhe Lake has become a winter migration site for the species. This is a welcome development for the State that enacted the ‘Pakke [site of a tiger reserve] declaration’ aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change and also preserve the endangered species of flora and fauna in Arunachal Pradesh,” Mr. Kumar said.

After 108 years

The Mandarin duck had visited eastern Assam and Arunachal Pradesh in 2021 after a gap of 108 years. The bird was sighted on Manipur’s Loktak Lake in 2013 and in western Assam’s Manas National Park in 2014.

Deemed as one of Arunachal Pradesh’s most beautiful high-altitude valleys, Ziro is known for an array of rare moth and butterfly species such as the Kaiser-i-Hind, Apatani glory, Bhutan glory, Brown gorgon and Paris peacock.

Other important faunal species in the valley include the clouded leopard, Himalayan bear, brown bear, flying squirrel and the white-bellied heron.

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