By Chetan R.
CID forest detectives say the 11 birds they rescued were in bad shape. The parakeets have been sent to rescue centre for treatment
Eleven fortune-tellers failed to predict the stroke of 'misfortune' that was to befall them when they set out in search of work at a fair near Sajjan Rao Circle on Sunday. The 11 were rounded up by police, detained and later let off with a stern warning. But not before police confiscated their fortune telling 'equipment'.
In a joint operation, CID forest sleuths and BBMP forest cell personnel rounded up these fortune- tellers for having in their possession rose-ringed parakeets, a protected species under the Wildlife Protection Act. It is illegal to keep these birds in one's possession. Police say the birds were subjected to cruelty. Sleuths also seized the cages which the birds were kept in and cards used to tell people's fortunes.
The birds, which wildlife sleuths say were in bad condition —some were not in a position to fly —were sent to the Bannerghatta Rescue Centre for treatment and rehabilitation. "The birds were in very poor condition," said Sharath R Babu, environment advisor, BBMP Forest Cell. "While some had their wings clipped, others had claws and feet amputated. Primary feathers were also clipped. They were poorly fed and were in dehydrated condition. They were confined to small cages. All the birds have been sent to the rehab centre for treatment."
Police had rescued over 160 parakeets in 1999-2000 following raids in Goraguntepalya, an area where fortune tellers reside. Although they were warned against indulging in the practice, the fortune-tellers, mostly from Tamil Nadu, slowly returned and got back to their old ways.
Sleuths say parakeet astrology, where fortune-tellers foretell one's future for a fee, triggers trade involving these birds. The birds are hunted down in forests during the breeding season. Poachers mark nests and remove fledglings from their nests. The birds are then trained to pick cards. Wildlife sleuths say removing the birds from their nests not only affects the population of these birds, but also the forest ecosystem as parakeets play an important role in seed dispersion.
"The drive was part of sensitizing people who blindly believe in parakeet astrology and those in the trade," a CID forest cell official. "People should not encourage these acts as it fuels pet trade. The fortune-tellers were detained and let off later with a warning."