Munia birds rescued

Munia Bird

Coimbatore: Following a tip off from a nature enthusiast, Forest officials on Monday rescued four Munia birds (small finchlike Asian birds) from a person and fined him for the offence.

The team deputed by Conservator of Forests, Coimbatore Circle, R.Kannan and District Forest Officer, I. Anwardeen and led by Forester S.M. Natarajan apprehended P. Murugesan (35) of Dharmapuri, currently working in Tirupur, after he was found in possession of four birds belonging to Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act.

Preliminary enquiries revealed that a house owner in his area in Tirupur gave the birds to Murugesan asking him to either free them or sell them. Murugesan was trying his luck to make some money by selling them.

The birds were found in iron cages.

Based on his information, Forest officials have asked the officials in Tirupur to ascertain the source of these birds from the house owner to track down the primary seller of Munia birds. Murugesan was fined Rs. 1,000 for the offence.

From THE HINDU

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Nagercoil: Protection of birds; two-day tour planned

Nagercoil: The district administration in association with Green Friends Association has decided to conduct a two-day tour under the leadership of the famous ornithologist Robert Grub to create an awareness among the people of the need to give protection to the foreign birds as well as birds from different parts of the country which came to Theroor, Suchindrum, Parakkai, Puthalam and other parts of the district during the summer season.

According to the Collector Rajendra Ratnoo, it has been decided to conduct the tour from February 27.

In order to facilitate the public to have a glimpse of foreign birds in these sanctuaries, binocular facility had already been made. Breakfast would also be given to the participants and a minimum rate collected from them. Those who wanted at participate in the tour programme could contact District Forest Officer or District Tourism Officer to get more information.

They could also contact the cell phone numbers 9445468538 or 9865262624.

From THE HINDU

Ramanathapuram: Forest department launches first-ever synchronised bird census in the State

RAMANATHAPURAM: The Forest Department on Sunday launched its first ever synchronised bird census in all 12 bird sanctuaries in the State.

Winged visitors: Birds nestling at Keela Selvanur-Mela Selvanur sanctuary near Kadaladi in Ramanathapuram district. — Photo: L. Balachandar

As many as 1500 bird watchers, ornithologists, forest officials, nature lovers and students have been involved in the two-day programme. They have been camping in different locations of the State for sighting as well as recording the species of winged visitors from different continents who have come here for breeding and nestling.

The Chief Wildlife Warden and the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, R. Sundararaju, who personally monitored the process of bird census at the Mela Selvanur–Keela Selvanur bird sanctuary near Kadaladi told The Hindu that the synchronised bird population estimate had been undertaken in the State for the first time in the country.

It was aimed at estimating the total number of birds, which had visited the State in the season, as correct as possible. The department had attempted the synchronised estimation as the earlier census conducted in different dates in different sanctuaries did not give the correct picture of birds.

He said that the simultaneous estimation had been conducted in all sanctuaries including Vedanthangal, the oldest bird sanctuary in the State, Point Calimere in Nagapattinam district, Kunthankulam in Tirunelveli district, Vettangudi in Sivaganga district and all major tanks and water bodies. A few teams of officials had been sent to the 21 islands of Gulf of Mannar, which was one of the ideal centres for migratory birds, for estimation.

Mr. Sundararaju added that officials were asked to compile the reports within a few days and send them to the headquarters as quickly as possible. Though the State wide figure would be known in a week, the preliminary information revealed that the bird population including migratory and inland was satisfactory. Several rare species including pelicans, darters, cormorant, flamingos, white ibis and others were sighted in large numbers.

He said that a comprehensive analytical study would be undertaken based on reports of bird population in different sanctuaries.

Follow up actions including provision of waterholes, planting of perching trees favourable for breeding and nestling and others would be undertaken.

H. Mallesappa, Conservator of Forests, Virudhunagar range and M. Sundarakumar, Wildlife Warden, Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park, said direct sighting method had been followed for counting the population of birds.

C. Jaishankar From THE HINDU

Patna: Mystery over ‘tagged’ bird unravelled

PATNA/KISHANGANJ: The mystery surrounding the recovery of the transmitter-tagged bird from a Kishanganj village in Bihar two days back has been finally laid to rest, after Bombay Natural History Society claimed of using the bird for one of its study project.

The bird, a bar-headed goose, was ringed and fitted with a satellite tracking device on December 13 and released in the Chilka Lake in Orissa by a Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) scientist Balachandran. BNHS was assigned a Food and Agriculture Organisation project of ringing ducks and geese as part of its motive to study things related to spread of avian influenza.

Balachandran is the national co-ordinator of the project. The project was launched, as most of the ducks and geese that migrate to India, originally came from China and Tibet. Around three years back a large number of such birds had died in China due to avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu.

“The moment I learnt about the recovery of the bird in Bihar, I contacted BNHS director Asad Rahmani informing him about the incident. He immediately forwarded me these details,” BNHS member and Indian Bird Conservation Network state co-ordinator Arvind Mihsra told TOI on Saturday.

According to the data received from the transmitter of the bird, after its ringing in Chilka Lake it went to Mangolia and bred there. After that the bird migrated to China’s Quinghai Lake and from there it came to this area around a week back, Mishra said.

Details of the data are with BNHS. The data also gave a valuable input that bar-headed goose also breeds in Mangolia, Mishra said. Earlier, it was recorded that these birds bred mostly in China and Tibet.

Meanwhile, forest department has made special arrangement to keep the bird in a good shape, as after the recovery it appeared to be in some sort of stress. “After consulting few experts, we gave the bird liquid glucose and now it appears to be quite well,” Araria divisional forest officer Nand Kumar Manjhi told TOI on phone.

He said, a field official has been sent to Sukahi police station, where the recovered transmitter has been kept, so that it can be handed over to the BNHS. The bird was intercepted from the mid-stream of river Mechhi on Bihar-Nepal border under Sukhani police station on Thursday.

From TOI

Mysore: Birds from Siberia add colour to lakes

MYSORE: It is wintertime and the water bodies surrounding Mysore city have for once turned all lively and vibrant. Courtesy arrival of hundreds of winged visitors, all the way from Siberia. Escaping the cold climatic conditions of the place, bar-headed geese have arrived in the look out for food and warmer climatic conditions, much to the delight of bird lovers in the city.

At places like Kadalipura in Somanathpur, KRS back waters, Devi Kere and Kabini backwaters surrounding Mysore city, bunches of migratory winged visitors have been holidaying, basking in the warmth of Mysore weather, for over a month now. Resting and feeding upon simple foods like the algae, paddy buds and insects, the birds will stay put at the place until March. “The migratory bar headed geese can be found at Kadalipura in Somanathpura, Devi kere, KRS and Kabini back waters here,” says city-based bird watcher Ravikumar G, “They arrived here over a month back and have been visiting water bodies in and around Mysore city for over years now. But we are delighted to know they have arrived in the city all the way from Siberia for all these years we believed they arrived from the Himalayas. We could recognize them as visitors from Siberia looking at the details available on their neck collars.”

Bar headed goose is a nocturnal bird that breeds in Central Asia and is one of the world’s high flying birds. It is pale gray-bodied with black bars on the head. Says Ravi, “these birds mostly migrate to the place to roost/sleep during mornings and do not like to be disturbed during the time. While over 400 of them can be found in Kadalipura, about 600 have arrived at the Devi kere.” “We having been witnessing that the geese are visiting these lakes for over 10 years. They would also migrate to a lake at Hadinaaru near the city in large numbers but have stopped visiting the same for four years as the fishing activities started increasing at the lake, disturbing the winged visitors.” “The number of birds visiting the lakes near Mysore has decreased as well. While over a 1,000 of them were found migrating a couple of years ago, their numbers have reduced to around 400 now,” he adds.

However, people residing in places around the lakes visited by the birds are not too pleased for they fear that the birds feed on the fish, though they actually do not do so, says Ravi. “The birds mostly feed on algae, insects and on paddy buds and do not feed on the fish in the lakes,” he said.

From TOI

India: National Bird dying & no one knows why

KANPUR: Wildlife experts and locals of Etawah and its adjoining villages are a worried lot following the death of 44 peacocks. These birds had been found dead under mysterious circumstances in the region in the month of December last.

Forest department officials are perturbed as despite postmortem, they have failed to corroborate the exact cause for their death in such a huge number.

Earlier, in a similar incident reported from Bakewar village in Etawah, as per wildlife experts, the peacocks had consumed maize seed in excess from fields that had led to the casualty of 12 peacocks in the region. The claim had been confirmed by the forest department officials after the postmortem, they said.

Wildlife experts and locals, who had never seen peacocks dying in such a huge number, however, claimed that the National Bird was being killed for feathers. The feathers were used in making hand-made peacock feather fans by a group of people active in several villages of Etawah.

With increasing deaths of the National Bird being reported from various parts of Etawah, they have demanded a check on illegal trade of peacock feathers. They say a group of people are involved and are running it like a cottage industry.

Though trade of felled feathers is allowed in India, wildlife experts fear that huge demand for feathers leads to poaching and subsequent killing of the birds.

Wildlife experts alleged that by allowing the sale, purchase and transport of peacock feathers, the government had almost given a green signal for poaching of the bird.

“Authorities responsible should immediately put a ban on the trade as it is the main reason for the killing of the National Bird in the region,” said Dr Rajiv Chauhan, secretary, Society for Conservation of Nature.
“It is only because of this trade that large-scale killing of the National Bird is taking place in Etawah and its surrounding areas. Our National Bird will surely end up on the critically endangered list,” he said. “Ironically, till date no census has been conducted on peacock population in the region,” he added.

Dr Chauhan further said about a dozen villages viz Thakuripura, Keshopura, Raura, Kothi Bazar and Nagla Chatur in Etawah districts were proving to be extremely dangerous for peacocks. Maximum deaths are taking place in and around Bharthana.

According to another wildlife expert: “Most of the poaching is done during winters when they rarely shed feathers. The colourful tail feathers of peacock develop at the age of three. And the tail feathers are shed annually, usually during the summer months.”

Farmers also contribute to their lessening number by way of poisoning peacocks to protect their crops. “So this is another reason for a number of peacocks being killed,” he pointed out.

Elaborating on the modus-operandi of poachers, Dr Chauhan informed that poachers first poisoned peacocks and then removed their feathers. Many a times, the use of pesticides in farms also killed the birds.

“In our childhood days, we used to see a number of peacocks, particularly during the rainy season. But now their number is gradually declining. The reason is unknown. Peacock is our National Bird and it should be preserved. The government and the people should work together for their survival,” said Kewat Lal, a local of Etawah.

The peacock is protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Zoologically named Pavo Cristatus, soaring sale and demand for peacock feathers and meat is worrying environmentalists.

The male peacock sports around 150 long “eyed” peacock tail feathers with which most of us are so familiar. These feathers are shed annually during the summers. These feathers are actually long extensions of the upper tail covers. They are supported from underneath by the much shorter tail feathers. These feathers grow to be several feet long, but are shed each year just after the breeding season. Each of these long feathers also has a design near its tip which resembles an eye.

Peacock our National Bird and its feathers, adorned by Lord Krishna, are considered auspicious by many of his followers. The peacock is also regarded as the carrier of Lord Muruga and Kartikeya by the South Indians.

From TOI

Chennai: Guindy park woos fewer migratory birds

CHENNAI: The northeast monsoon last year did bring above average rainfall in the city and the storage reservoirs have enough water to tide over the summer, according to authorities. However, denizens of the Guindy National Park, the country’s only such facility within a city, may not be as lucky as Chennaiites. The park has water to last only six months.

This is due to the late arrival of the monsoon and availability of less water in the Appalankulam tank in the reserve area, say park authorities. The tank serves as a favourite spot for nearly 132 species of migratory birds. So far during the migratory season (October to December), the park, spread over an area of 2.82 sqkm and having five natural ponds, has attracted fewer than the usual number of birds.

“Although there is minimum water in the Appalankulam pond, we are still hopeful of more birds coming,” says G Kamaraj, biologist at the park. The annual rainfall the park receives is not adequate for migratory birds to stay for a long period, he points out, adding: “Winged visitors from far-off places drop in here for short stays, on their way to Vedanthangal and other nearby sanctuaries that are bigger. During the season, they look for algae formations in the Appalankulam pond as a sign of welcome, and stop over for a while to feed on the fish. The open billed stork, rare painted stork, night heron, pond heron, little egret, dab chick, common teal, whistling teal, gargany and pink-tail duck are some of the regular visitors here.”

After park authorities deepened water channels, four tanks are now brimming with water, enough to take care of the park’s water needs for the next six months. However, the Appalankulam tank, located at one end of the park, depends on surplus water from the other four tanks. The National Park has more than 350 species of plants and 14 species of mammals, including the black buck, spotted deer, jackal, small Indian civet, bonnet macaque, black-napped hare, hedgehog and Indian pangolin. The park attracts an average of 3,000 visitors daily.

From TOI