Wildlife department acts tough to check illegal sale of migratory birds
After a recent outcry on social media over sale of live migratory birds, the state wildlife department has swung into action against “traders” involved in illegal business of exquisite visiting bird varieties.
The poaching and even sale of live birds are common every year at the time of arrival of these birds to the Valley. The practice is however prohibited under the J&K Wildlife Protection Act of 1978.
In order to prevent poaching and sale of these birds, checking of areas prone to their sale has been intensified by squads of the department. It has also set up a round-the-clock control room for the purpose.
The efforts have been intensified after a video showing a person selling a flock of migratory birds on Dr Ali Jan Road near Anchar here went viral on the social media on November 20.
As per officials of the department, they have filed a police complaint (a copy of which is with Greater Kashmir) against the person at Soura police station for allegedly illegally selling common coot variety of migratory birds locally known as kollur.
Speaking with Greater Kashmir, Rashid Naqash, regional wildlife warden, Kashmir said the offender will also be prosecuted in the court of forest magistrate under the J&K Wildlife Protection Act.
“The areas around Kashmir University, NIT and other parts of Dal Lake are vulnerable for sale and purchase of the migratory birds. Our teams are keeping a close eye on these areas,” said Naqash.
As per official figures 5-8 lakh migratory birds visit Kashmir from Central Asia, China, Siberia and Northern Europe every year out of which hundreds of varieties attract poachers and illegal traders. Many a small time poacher illegally sell these birds between Rs 100 to Rs 200 per bird in the retail market.
Rouf Zargar, Wildlife Warden, Kashmir (Wetlands) said around 3 lakh migratory birds at present have come to Hokarsar Wetland Reserve, Shalbug, Wullar and Dal Lake.
“In unprotected water bodies like the Wullar Lake and some other places, the poachers remain a threat to the migratory birds. Our department has teams of watchers who regularly visit unprotected habitats of these birds to hold the poachers at bay”, Zargar said.
As per officials, a committee has been set-up to suggest amendments to the J&K Wildlife Protection Act. “The amendments will hopefully make the act more effective so that sale and purchase of migratory birds become a cognizable offence,” said an official.
To mention, apart from full season birds, there are also birds of passage that come to the Valley for a short period during their migration to the Indian plains. These include the cormorants and sandhill cranes.
People living in rural areas around the Valley’s wetland reserves witness hundreds of migratory birds landing and taking off every day as they leave the reserves for nocturnal feeding in different lakes and other water bodies in the evening and return in the morning.