|Spoon-billed sandpiper; One of the critically endangered migratory birds to India|
Tamil Nadu's Point Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the key hotspots in India for avian enthusiasts as migratory birds flock down there every winter and mingle with the local bird populations. Unfortunately, the annual winter migration also draws poachers to the sanctuary who have been known to lay nets and other traps for the birds and selling them as delicacies in and around the district of Nagapattinam. Besides laying traps, the perpetrators have been known to use recorded sounds of different birds to lure them in. Recently, forest officials apprehended two poachers and fined them them 10,000 rupees. Moreover, they also found a youth from the village of Prandhiyan Karai in Vedaranyam municipality on Monday with two egrets. He faced a penalty of 6,000 rupees. According to S. Balachandran, an ornithologist and assistant director of the Bombay Natural History Society, these incidents also involve native birds as well as the migratory species who arrive during the October-November season. He also pointed out that local villagers need to be taught about the significance of their feathery neighbors. The incidents had been running rampant in the villages of Pushpavanam, Thanikottagam, and Thethakudi. In those villages, the residents asserted that the birds were being shipped to consumers abroad in Middle East, Malaysia, and Singapore. One bird enthusiast from Vedaranyam claimed that the birds are sent to those countries in form of raw or cooked meat. He further added that some buyers in the nearby village of Thupputhurai would pay the poachers 5,000 rupees in advance to sell them a pair of egrets every day. He also stated that there were 65 people in Vedaranyam's taluk (administrative division), each with licensed double-barrel guns as well as several unlicensed firearms. In response, District Forest Officer K. Soundarapandian promised that forest officials had turned tough against the poachers this year. In his own words, the perpetrators will be fined even if they are seen with nets.
This article, in my opinion, gives a clear message how one of India's most spectacular events is being tremendously affected. India has been one of the key stops for several migratory birds, who fly down from as far as Siberia and the Arctic Circle. And one of the places to see them is in Point Calimere, which falls all they way down in southern India. With so many birds flocking in from the north, it is no wonder that Point Calimere is a bird lover's paradise along with Keoladeo Ghana and Nal Sarovar Sanctuaries in northern and western India. I am, however, glad to see that forest officials have now taken a step further in toughening up the laws targeted towards the poachers in and around Point Calimere. This way, the migratory bird species will continue to flock every winter.
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