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Concern voiced over wanton killing of avian guests in Sivasagar waterbodies
ANN Service

Carcasses of bar-headed geese which were retrieved from the Joysagar Pukhuri in Sivasagar, on Friday. – UB Photos
 SIVASAGAR, Jan 12 - Bijoy Rovi Kashyap, secretary of Prithvi, an NGO working for environmental protection, rushed to the bank of the historic Joysagar Pukhuri after receiving a phone call from his friend Partha Bora on Friday morning.

He was shocked to see 15 dead migratory bar-headed geese (anser indicus) floating on the water and several others flapping their wings pathetically in order to regain their breath – a sight that would bring tears to any bird-lover.

Local scribes Ananta Smith, Bahar Ahmed, Ashraful Rahman and Bhairov Munda along with the help of some local youths retrieved the carcasses of 18 geese from the historic tank. They also handed over some injured migratory avians to the Rapid Response Team of the State Forest Department.

Hundreds more might have been killed in recent times with rampant use of killer pesticide and nematicide Furadon (carbo-Furon 3 percent) in the paddy fields and waterbodies of Sivasagar and adjoining areas by a section of unscrupulous people, the environment activist later told The Assam Tribune.

The pesticide is mixed with boiled rice and strewn over the paddy fields that are now turning green with new shoots of grass and weeds after the harvest. The tender shoots are a favourite food of these birds. In their quest to feed on these tender shoots, the unsuspecting birds often come across and devour the poison-laced boiled lumps of rice and subsequently become dazed or fall dead.

Come September, and the honking of migratory ducks fill the Sivasagar skyline every year. Both residential and migratory water fowl coming from distant shores, who are obviously exhausted and hungry, fall upon the tender shoots at daybreak and devour them. But those that gobble up the poisonous lumps of boiled rice soon become dizzy. A few manage to fly back to the waterbodies, their rest camp for the day, but later succumb to the toxic reaction.

When contacted, Bidya Bordoloi, DFO of Sivasagar, said that the Range Officer of Joysagar had filed an FIR against the miscreants and patrolling along the entire Joysagar area was intensified. Additionally, the sick ducks are being treated by veterinary officials and are said to be recovering well.

In any case, Sivasagar district is an important destination for the migratory birds as it has some of the most beautiful and sprawling man-made, Ahom-era lakes like Joysagar, Sivasagar, Gaurisagar, Lakshmisagar at Kalugaon, Dhaipukhuri at Kakilamari, Napukhuri, Puroni Pukhuri at Rudrasagar and Pohugarh, besides Boloma, Sagunpora and Singijan beels at Panidihing, Mornoi and the wetlands at Desangmukh, Dikhowmukh and Demowmukh along the turbulent Yellow River.

These waterbodies serve as their resting camps and the birds feed on the green vegetation, mollusks, aquatic insects in the wetlands and low-lying fields after the harvests. Some local miscreants covertly kill these sensitive avian species by using indigenous methods like use of pesticide, finely-meshed nylon nets and poison-laced bait of several kind.

Unfortunately, repeated plea by the nature-lovers and inadequate steps by the Forest Department have not made much of an impact in the bird-killing fields over the years. Manoj Borthakur, adviser of Prithvi, Dr Sabyasachi Mahanta, Mehdi Masud Alam and educationist Rajiv Phukan expressed deep concern over the wanton killing of the winged guests.

The district magistrate of Sivasagar vide an official order yesterday prohibited fishing, picnicking and use of loudspeakers, besides littering in and around Pohugarh under Section 144 CrPC of the Indian penal code. The order was issued consequent upon reports of increasing activities like picnic, illegal fishing, sound pollution etc creating an unhealthy environment around nesting, roosting and feeding sites of the birds. The order came into effect immediately and will continue for the next 60 days.

Pohugarh, it may be mentioned, was developed by Ahom King Rudra Singha as a natural zoo for wildlife and avi-faunal species. It can retain water throughout the year and is therefore a paradise for migratory birds over the years.

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