By Venkatesh Bayya
Members of the Vizag Bird Watchers Club (VBWC) were in for a rude shock, when on their Sunday saunter at Chepaluppada earlier this week they saw a guy fire at an egret nestled in the bushes in the stream with an air rifle.
"We pulled out our cameras and shot him. Realising that he was caught on camera, he immediately hid his rifle and scampered from there," said Vivek Rathod, a member of the VBWC, pointing out that this was not the first time they had seen poachers in action.
"Most of the bird poachers are usually catapult wielding villagers and rarely has our group of amateur ornithologists have come across air rifle toting poachers," added a shocked Rathod.
Poaching birds, especially the endangered and exotic varieties, is a grave offence, but neither the rules nor the inability of these winged creatures to defend themselves have deterred poaching from shooting them down either with a catapult or an air rifle. The rampant bird poaching has led to an alarming 40-50% decline in the number of birds, be it egrets or the common house sparrow.
GP Rao another member of the VBWC said, "It is unfortunate that despite the drastic fall in the population of birds, chiefly due to loss of habitat, very few members of the public are aware that the bird population in and around Visakhapatnam has fallen by nearly 50% overall and in some cases like the common house sparrow it has fallen by as much as 98%.
"Egrets, which were most common even in the heart of the town, are still found in places untouched by urban development like Chepalauppada and the Kambalakonda forest reserve. More....