| One of the many eateries that serves lark meat in Motihari. Picture by Ajit Kumar Verma |
Several birds, believed to be important in maintaining ecological balance, are ending up as food owing to rampant poaching and alleged laxity on part of forest department officials.
In Motihari town, bageri or lark meat is sold almost daily in this season right under the nose of the district administration as well as personnel of the forest department in violation of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
Popularly known as bageri, the lark is found in large numbers in sugarcane and arhar fields during spring and is trapped by poachers. They are sold at Rs 120 per dozen to buyers.
Lark meat is also available in this season at almost every shop in Motihari town famous for selling a variety of meat preparation at Gandhi Chowk and many other places. Lark meat is considered more dry and tastier than mutton.
“Apart from the lark, other smaller birds like pipits, bulbul, sparrow and wagtail, which too come within purview of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, are hunted and sold at exorbitant prices in the name of the lark,” said Arvind Mishra, a member of the State Wildlife Board.
Talking about a complete ban on poaching of the lark and other smaller birds useful to maintain an ecological balance, Mishra said: “These birds have also been working as natural pest controllers. Droppings of the lark and other smaller birds are also good fertilisers and help in germination of new species of plants.”
However, officials of the forest department and the district administration are allegedly negligent towards the menace of bird poaching here. Several other birds like snipe, sandpiper and stint often migrate here from the upper Himalayan regions and meet a similar tragic fate.
“Ladakh, Tibet and China are the trans-Himalayan regions where these birds usually breed,” Mishra added.
When contacted, the divisional forest officer (DFO), L.B. Manjhi, denied having any information regarding sale of lark meat or that of any other bird in Motih- ari town.
He, however, assured the correspondent of a probe into the matter.
He said: “Anyone found violating the act would be booked. Violation of the act has a provision of seven years’ imprisonment and a fine up to of Rs 50,000. I have deputed two officials for the purpose.”