Good news for wildlife enthusiasts
IMPHAL, MARCH 8
The forest department officials and wildlife lovers are overjoyed by the increasing wildlife awareness among the people in general and the traditionally hunting tribes of Manipur. More and more people are coming forth with rescued animals and birds. Many of them are released in the wild since the Zoological garden at Iroishemba near Imphal has limited spaces.
Every winter thousands of migratory birds including teal and other wild ducks come to the Loktak lake which is the largest lake in the Northeast. It is estimated that about half of them do not return home.Every year thousands of Amur falcons are trapped and shot dead using guns and slingshots in the State in general and Tamenglong district in particular. However many tribal hunters are reformed and are today educating the youths on the need to protect this species which flocks the State in thousands every season. From next year they are planning an Amur Falcon Day to educate the people. Recently the Forest department had taken some persons to the Kaziranga National Park in Assam to instil the wildlife awareness and officials say that it is fruitful.
Several rare birds have also been venturing into Manipur. Ahead of the Parliamentary elections, one candidate was presented with a carcass of a big vulture. Out of a pair, this one was shot down after chasing a long distance in the mountains.
Recently one minister was also presented with another carcass of a bird originating from Myanmar. Reacting to blistering criticism in the media, the Minister clarified that he honoured the people by accepting it but left it there and never took to his residence. It is a tradition among the tribal families to display skulls of slain animals on the front walls as trophies.
Though officials say that they are coming down heavily on poachers, Imphal-based journalists come across poachers every now and then who sell venison and meats of other rare animals under the nose of the authority. The sheepish officials had explained that due to shortage of officials and armed personnel and in view of the generations old hunting tradition of the tribes sometimes they cannot act. But it is a fact that carcasses of deer, mountain goats, wild pigs and various exotic birds are on open sale in many markets in Manipur and Nagaland.
Officials told The Hindu that there is 3.8 per cent of the total area of Manipur as reserved forests as against all Indian recommendation of 10 per cent. Due to wild fires started by hunters and shifting cultivation farmers, human habitation and other developmental projects, the reserved forests in Manipur are still depleting. The government is planning to develop more sanctuaries. The 40 sq. km Keibul Lamjao is the natural habit of the brow antlered deer whose population in Manipur is less than 200. There is a plan to expand it.