Unchecked poaching of rare and migratory species of birds despite repeated appeals and awareness has prompted the Forest and Environment Department to include all wetlands of Jharkhand for upcoming census. The Department feels the change of strategy would help in making a better plan in terms of preservation.
The bird census, done not very extensively on previous occasions and was even bunked last year, would start in the second-third week of January for all over the State. “We have planned to rope in local wildlife experts, NGO people, and ornithologists from BNHS-India (Bombay Natural History Society, a pan-India wildlife research organisation) for the survey. This time the Department is going to cover all significant water bodies scattered across Jharkhand,” said Chief Wildlife Warden LR Singh.
Decision to induct all the wetlands has been taken looking at major arrival of the migratory birds to the places which otherwise are outside the jurisdiction of the Department.
“We have come across that despite our efforts aimed to check poaching of birds in their peak arrival season, the practice is continuing unabated. Many water bodies in the State are under Water Resources Department or Drinking Water and Sanitation Department which have been neglected from bird protection angle. When we have the census data with us making a preservation plan would be easier and effective,” added the official.
Besides the Udhawa wildlife sanctuary, no other landing abode of birds is covered under the direct watch and protective regulations of the Wildlife Protection Act in the State. This has exposed the species to rampant poaching often done by locals and illegal traders, a worrying factor for nature lovers.
“This is very unfortunate that level of awareness among the people is going down drastically. We can see open illegal trade and poaching of birds. The Department is now forced to issue public notice for saving even Bageris, which were found in abundance in the State earlier. Isolated wetlands have become safe havens for the poachers,” said noted environmentalist Nitish Priyadarsi.
The Department into its list of major wetlands has gone on including all the three dams around Ranchi—Dhurwa, Kanke and Rukka—besides Patratu, Masanjore, Malay, Chandil, Tenughat, Tilaiya etc where the extensive counting of the seasonal winged immigrants would take place.
“The idea is to get details about their origin, species and actual number, trend of migration before going to chalk out the plan about their protection. Data about all the places scattered around the State would provide us inputs about focus areas and the Department would be able to instruct locals DFOs to stop killings of the birds. The instruction is still there but due to lack specific details our local officials are not able to act,” said LR Singh.He, at the same time, also stressed over the need to generate greater degree of awareness among the locals as it is not possible for the authorities to station officials at all the places all the time.
“We are aware about the gravity of the problem. Birds are being killed illegally on a large scale in the State. All round support, especially of locals, is required,” said the State’s Wildlife Warden.