November 2016 News

Last Season's Massive Poaching Delaying Arrival Of Migratory Birds

25 November 2016
Kashmir Observer
Farooq Shah

Srinagar: By this time, the migratory birds from various parts of the world should have been in Kashmir but the last year's relentless poaching by hunters has perhaps distracted the avian guests and perhaps, they have refused to travel this time around. However, many attribute their absence to this date to the prolonged dry spell in the valley leading to a delay in their arrival to Kashmir's wetland reserves. Every year, the poaching is going-on at the large scale, but the authorities are making no efforts to stop these killings this season. A wildlife official requesting not to be named said the department could do very little unless it has proper infrastructure and manpower. 'There is lack of man power and inadequate equipment is available with the department, which is the main reason for not curbing killing of migratory birds every year,' he said. He also said the Wild Life Department is not well equipped to stop the poaching of birds. He claimed the preservation of migratory birds in the Dal Lake was also the job of other departments, like LAWDA, Revenue and Fisheries. 'These departments have the job to preserve the migratory birds in the Dal Lake, but we also handle the poaching incidents there. Our main job is to handle the areas falling under the jurisdiction of the wild life areas,' he stated. 'Sometimes, we are not able to stop the killing of migratory birds. But, once we receive any information about the poaching, we send our anti-poaching team there. Sometimes, we also hire the boats in the Dal Lake to stop the poaching of the migratory birds,' the official said. In order to save the migratory birds from poaching, authorities last month directed licensed gun holders in the 5-km radius of famous wetlands including Dal Lake and Hokersar to deposit their weapons with concerned police stations forthwith. 'All the persons holding Arms Licenses and living within the five kilometers of Shallibug, Hokersar wetlands and Dal Lake to deposit their guns in their concerned police stations against a proper receipt,' an official spokesman said citing the order of Additional District Magistrate, Srinagar. However, people in several villages of north Kashmir wetlands hunt migratory birds by employing age old techniques such as a snarl. The wetlands in Kashmir villages are witness to the poaching of migratory birds but the practice in several villages in north Kashmir is somehow different as a kind of thread (snarl) is placed in the water to catch birds alive. The snarl is made up of thread using knots on pulling it tights and the snarl is transparent decoy a man can hardly see with naked eyes. The thread of snarl is attached with wooden thorns and placed in water to catch birds. A snarl can cover more than 30 feet of area. During rainy days the practice gains pace in villages in and around wetlands. The wetlands in Kashmir villages are witness to the poaching of migratory birds but the practice in several villages in north Kashmir is somehow different as a kind of thread (snarl) is placed in the water to catch birds alive. The snarl is made up of thread using knots on pulling it tights and the snarl is transparent decoy a man can hardly see with naked eyes. The thread of snarl is attached with wooden thorns and placed in water to catch birds. A snarl can cover more than 30 feet of area. During rainy days the practice gains pace in villages in and around wetlands. An employee from the Wild Life Department said that slaughter of birds continued last season without any check. 'I'm telling you all this as a conscientious citizen,' he said begging not to be named. 'The hunters have been given a free hand to kill the birds. On an average, 800 to 900 birds a day were killed last season,' he said. He said the clandestine activity is being carried out with the open connivance of the Wildlife officials and police. 'Failure of the department to stop this activity is not the only thing that should worry us but there are people inside the department facilitate encroachment of wetlands across Kashmir,' he added. Normally, the migratory birds leave their summer homes in East Europe, China, Siberia, Japan and Philippines every year to enjoy their sojourn visit to the wetland reserves of Hokersar in Mirgund, Hygam and Shalbug. Hokersar being the largest wetland reserve in Kashmir is spread over 13.75 square kilometres. The migratory birds spend almost five months in the Valley wetlands that provide sanguine and peaceful environs to the aerial guests. Besides the identified wetland reserves, the migratory birds also throng the water bodies like Dal, Nigeen and Manasbal lakes, who travel with an unmatched efficiency every year across their summer and winter homes. However, the continuous dry weather condition in the valley has delayed the arrival of migratory birds this year.

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