By Hrusikesh Mohanty
With the onset of winter, wildlife officials have stepped up patrolling to prevent poaching in Chilika. Every year, the lake attracts thousands of winged guests during this time.
Birds in and around the lake fall prey to poachers particularly after Kartik Purnima. During the month of Kartik, Hindus only have vegetarian dishes till the full moon night.
After that, they go back to non-vegetarian items. As a result, demand for meat goes up. Poachers at this time target birds in the lake, which are sold in the markets of Balugaon, Berhampur and Bhubaneswar.
"Patrolling will be intensified in the next two to three days to prevent poaching in the lagoon," said divisional forest officer (Chilika) B P Acharya. At least 17 camps have been set up in the lake. These are manned by over 50 forest personnel. Police and local activists will also take part in patrolling.
Meanwhile, police forces have been deployed in Sorana, identified as one of the vulnerable areas for poaching, sources said.
"Wildlife personnel have kept strict vigil on the movement and activities of habitual offenders," the DFO said.
Wildlife officials said they had not recorded a single poaching case in the current season, even though thousands of different species of birds have come to the lake. Majority of them have congregated in the 16.59 sq km Nalabana Island inside the lake, declared as a bird sanctuary.