| The grey-sided thrush |
Imphal, June 6: Two migratory birds, originating from Siberia and China, have stopped visiting Shiroi hills of Ukhrul district in Manipur, following largescale felling of fruit- bearing trees and poaching, a documentary released on World Environment Day yesterday has revealed.
The birds, locally known as shiri (grey-sided thrush and eyebrowed thrush), are almost similar.
The film titled The Unattended Guest narrated how the unchecked felling of tress, including leihao leishang (michelia doltsopa) by villagers in the past years, curbed the visit of the migratory birds to the hill range since the past couple of years.
The 20-minute film is directed by Laishram Shamun-gou, a documentary filmmaker. The film is supported by the wildlife wing of the state forest department and is the second documentary by the filmmaker. The film recorded narration by villagers from Shiroi, officials of the state forest department and environmentalists. The villagers said in the past, thousands of shiris visited Shiroi hills during the summer and stayed there until the winter set in.
Grey-sided thrush is listed as a vulnerable bird species in the Red Data Book of the International Union of Conservation of Nature. They feed on the fruits of leihao. “However, as all the fruit-bearing leihao trees were felled by the villagers, the birds stopped coming, as there is no more leihao fruit,” an elderly villager said.
Shiri is the most favourite food of the villagers and the bird also had links with the cultural life of the people in the hill range. They presented shiri to their married daughters during their visits to parental homes. The villagers used a sticky substance made out of a parasitic plant known as nei in the local language to catch the bird. The villagers also used guns to kill the bird, the size of a sparrow.
The birds get thirsty after eating the leihao fruits and search for water. The villagers planted sticks coated with the sticky substance near spring water and the birds would get stuck on those sticks.
Shiri originated from Siberia and China. “Once, a bird with an electronic tag around one of its legs saying it was from Siberia was caught,” environmentalist R.K. Ranjan Singh said.