By Kruthi Gonwar
Fifteen Southern Indian Rollers or Blue Jays (Coracias Benghalensis Indica), which is also the state bird of Andhra Pradesh, were seized from bird catchers in the city on Sunday. But an estimated 100 birds that were brought from Nizamabad to Kacheguda railway station on Saturday morning could not be rescued. “By the time we reached the place, the bird catchers had fled,” said deputy range officer Baba Khader Vali.
The birds are caught in large numbers around this time of the year due to the myth is that sighting a Blue Jay on Dasara brings good luck. Known as Palapitta locally, these birds are rarely found in cities. They are trapped illegally and brought to the city and displayed outside temples and Durga pandals.
A team of officials from the forest department, anti-poaching squad, wildlife protection society, People For Animals and the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau conducted raids in and around the twin cities, including Murgi Chowk, and seized the 15 birds.
“Bird catchers trap these birds before the festival, trim their wings, and keep them in cases without providing food or water. By the end of Dasara, many of them die,” said Koteswara Rao Uttarakavatam, forest range officer, anti- poaching squad.
Keeping these birds in captivity is a non-bailable and non-compoundable offence under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. In 2011, 10 Blue Jays were rescued. But by the time they were freed many died. Wildlife Crime Control Bureau official Mahesh said, “Last year, it took three days to send them back to their habitat and many birds died by then.”
We hope they speed up this process, because the Indian Rollers cannot adapt to the change in environment quickly. We are losing so many of our national bird species. Some bird catchers even chop the beaks of these birds as they tend to bite on being captured," he said.