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Birds fall prey to poison of poachers in Jorhat

A man holds up carcasses of birds that were recovered near Borchorola Beel on Wednesday. Picture by UB Photos

Jorhat, Jan. 8: A large number of birds, some of them migratory, died after being poisoned by poachers in a waterbody near the Brahmaputra here last night.

While many of these birds were scavenged by crows, some were recovered by a few youths who have launched a campaign along the river this year to protect the birds. The migratory species roost in the waterbodies along the river during winter.

“We have recovered carcasses of six birds (moorhens and common teal) this morning but the entire area near the Borchorola Beel is littered with skeletons and bones of birds, as these were eaten by crows,” Chakrapani Hazarika, one of the youths, told The Telegraph today.

He said the forest department has been informed.

Chakrapani, who is a leader of Asom Jatiyatibadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP), had started a farm along with seven other youths near the Kokilamukh area here to protect birds. They have also started cultivating vegetables on the farm, which is spread on 14 bighas.

“We have been staying in the farm since the onset of winter when the migratory birds started arriving. We have been maintaining a vigil in these waterbodies and also warning villagers not to harm the migratory birds. But the poachers took advantage of the thick blanket of fog last night and this morning and killed these birds by spraying poison,” Chakrapani said.

He said he and his friends had seen a few persons, probably poachers, fleeing from the waterbody on seeing them arrive this morning. “There was thick cover of fog and we arrived at this particular waterbody very late. By that time the poachers managed to take away many birds which they had killed. They had probably sprayed poison in the waterbody last night and had come to collect the birds early this morning,” he said.

Poachers mix poison with paddy and spray the mixture in the waterbodies. When the birds feed on the paddy, they die, the youth leader said.

“One of the birds we recovered was semi-conscious when we arrived this morning. It recovered when we fed it a mixture of lemon and mustard oil,” he said.

The waterbodies along the Brahmaputra here turn into a haven for migratory birds every winter with large number of winged visitors arriving to roost. According to forest department estimates, 170 species of birds throng the waterbodies and occupy about 2,108 hectares of land along the Brahamaputra from Kokilamukh to Janjimukh every winter. Among these there are two species of pelicans, two species of swans and several species of ducks.

According to a survey conducted by Friends of Nature, an NGO, in 2002 about 30,000 birds visited Kokilamukh.

However, a large number of these birds fall prey to poachers who kill these birds to earn easy money by selling these to roadside eateries.

Although the forest department has been taking measures to protect these winter guests, the spate of killings has continued.