By Our Staff Reporter
IMPHAL, Dec 4: Majority of people belonging to Mao community have given up the traditional practice of hunting migratory birds during winter season following Forest Department’s sustained efforts to work together with the public.
Hunting of migratory birds for food was a traditional practise till some years back at many places such as Tobumei, Kaibi, Makhel, Sajouba etc which are located along Tadubi-Tolloi road.
Large flocks of migratory birds fly towards these places from Doyang Lake of Nagaland during night. But they were hit by sticks and forced to drop dead or injured on the ground as they reached the mountain ridges of Manipur where bright lamps were lit specially for hunting the birds.
Earlier, these birds were hunted for consumption only but a large number of people started hunting the birds for commercial purpose which forced the Forest Department to intervene.
PCCF K Angami was serving as the Chief Wildlife Warden when he took up an initiative to save the migratory birds in association with Additional PCCF and State Biodiversty Board Member Secretary Dr Lokho Punii who is a native of Kalinamei, Mao.
Together with CSOs and local villagers, the department carried out intensive awareness programmes at the places where migratory birds were hunted.
Subsequently, the Mao Council, the apex body of the Mao community banned hunting of wild birds in their areas for three years and they also resolved to impose a fine of Rs 5000 against any one found hunting birds, Dr Lokho Punii told The Sangai Express.
The Mao Council further resolved to protect catchment areas, prohibit setting forest areas afire, constitute Green Protection Group for every Mao village and plant saplings every year from May 25 to 31.
Large flocks of migratory birds including water birds come to Tobumei, Kaibi, Makhel and Sajouba every year during September and October.
Villagers know the time of their arrival from wind direction and the way hill tops are covered by clouds. Before the arrival of the migratory birds, villagers make nets by tying wires to tall bamboos.
Around 40 to 50 villagers would stay at hill ridges for the whole night and they used bright lamps (Petromax) to catch birds, Dr Lokho Punii said.
As the birds flew to the bright light, the villagers hit them with sticks which make the birds drop dead or injured, he explained.
There is a belief among the Mao people that killing too much birds would bring ill-fortune and they are still abiding by the age-old belief that migratory birds returning to their original places from Manipur should not be killed, said the Additional PCCF.
Following sustained and concerted efforts of Forest Department, Mao Council and villagers, hunting of birds has stopped at Mao areas except for a few stray incidents, he said.
Makhel Biodiversity Management Committee chairman K Stephen too said that villagers have stopped hunting birds.
If any light meant for catching birds is seen, volunteers of Mao Council would rush in immediately and thwart the hunting attempt, he said.
The hill ridges which were earlier used for hunting migratory birds have been planted with saplings provided by the Forest Department.
By Our Staff Reporter