Thursday, March 17, 2011

Poaching Takes Toll on Migratory Birds in Hyderabad's Outskirts

An oriental pratincole

Recently, it was reported that more than a dozen migratory birds fell prey to poachers in the outskirts of Hyderabad. The victims were trapped in a thin, vertical net set up at the Patancheru Lake. Wildlife experts suspect that that it was the work of local residents. The victims, pointed out by them, belonged to a wide range of species such as barn swallows, red-wattled lapwings, bronze-winged jacanas, and oriental pratincoles. According to Tom Hash, a birdwatcher and scientist for ICRISAT, it was the first time a matter like this was recorded near the city. He further added that the net had trapped at least a dozen birds. This incident was immediately reported to the forest department. But even more shocking was that the officials were not aware of any such illegal activities. M. Raja Ramana Reddy, a forest range officer who is in charge of the anti-poaching squad, stated that only partridges and quails are threatened by poachers. The authorities claim that the trapping of waterbirds around Patancheru Lake was the first incident, but wildlife experts say the incident is nothing new. Trapping of waterbirds has been a common occurrence in Hyderabad's lakes, particularly during the migration season. The birds are caught by locals for food, which they either cook at home or sell to customers along the city's dhabas. Members of the Birdwatchers Society of Andhra Pradesh say that Hyderabad has become a thriving market for selling birds, many of which are sold for commercial purposes and consumed by poor households for survival.

I'm very shocked and saddened that many migratory birds flocking to Hyderabad's lakes are being trapped and sold for commercial purposes. But what really shocks me is that the forest department was unaware of these incidents. This is a perfect example of what happens to wildlife when authorities are not paying attention to dangers of any sort being imposed by humans. I personally feel that the forest department should take serious action against these incidents, and target those individuals who do the dirty work of trapping these birds and eventually their employers who oversee the illicit business spilling on Hyderabad's streets. However, I'm also deeply saddened by the way people living in poor households are surviving by relying on the birds as a food source. I feel that a great deal of action should be taken in helping these people. That is, to provide them with better alternatives in order to give up this lifestyle. And also to educate them about the ecological importance of the birds.

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