Chennai: Migratory birds ending up on dining tables at city restaurants

CHENNAI: Thousands of native and migratory birds, which fly long distances to visit the protected Pallikaranai marsh on the city’s outskirts, are ending up on the dining tables of restaurants. Poachers, who had beat a retreat after 317 hectares of the marsh was declared protected forest area in 2007, are now making a comeback.

While ‘narikuravas’, originally nomadic forest hunters, are known to hunt birds and animals across the state, a group of poachers from the Karapakkam area is killing black-winged stilts and teals in large numbers, according to forest officials. The birds are often sold to restaurants, which pass them off as quail meat.

The Karapakkam poachers have adopted a unique method to catch the stilts alive without creating much noise. They use a single bird as a live ‘bait’ to attract a flock. The bird’s eye is sutured shut and its legs tied before it is propped up in the middle of a net. The bird’s cry attracts others flying by. As a flock descends on the net, the poachers, who sit some distance away, pull the strings to net the birds.

“They catch as many as 30 birds at one go. These birds are either sold here or transported outside the city to be sold to restaurants,” a forest department source said. Kancheepuram forest officials came face to face with such a gang a couple of days ago, but the poachers managed to flee.

“We have registered 35 cases of bird poaching in the Velachery range alone since April 2009,” said forest range officer David Raj.

From TOI

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