By S. Prasad
Poaching of migratory birds continues unabated in the coastal hamlets of Cuddalore district despite stringent warnings by the Tamil Nadu forest department against their killing. Thousands of migratory birds, especially Indian pond herons and egrets, migrate during the breeding season (October to February) and halfget trapped and served as meat in bars and hotels on the Cuddalore-Puducherry Road. Arjunan Ilayaraja, secretary of the Cuddalore-based NGO, Aalamaram, said that Indian pond herons and egrets are most commonly found in vast tracts of paddy fields from Bahoor in Puducherry to Nochikadu, Thyagavalli, Alappakkam and Killai in Cuddalore district on the East Coast Road during the nesting season.
”The modus operandi of the poachers is to trap one or two birds and stitch their eyes and tie the birds to the fishing net, which is laid out on paddy fields. The flapping of the wings of the suffering birds attracts other birds that are flying above who descend innocently and are trapped in the net.”
Thousands of such birds are poached daily and the bird trappers make good money by selling the meat to liquor outlets and hotels on the ECR. This massacre of migratory birds has been going on unabated and the arrival of the winged guests will reduce drastically in the days to come unless adequate measures are taken by the Forest Department.
Both the Indian pond heron and egret are listed under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and poaching them carries a fine of `10,000 or imprisonment or both, Ilayaraja said.
An ornithologist who preferred to remain anonymous said that paddy fields on the ECR had now become the favourite haunts of poachers. Earlier, primitive tribes, including those belonging to the Narikorava community, were the main culprits.
But of late, residents from coastal hamlets too have been hunting these birds. Despite arrests and dire threats by the forest department they resume. The forest department should conduct periodic checks on hotels where the meat of exotic birds is served, he added.