Correspondent AIZAWL, Oct 11 - Aizawl-based wildlife group Association for Environmental Preservation (ASEP) has said that at least 300 birds of different species have been shot – well, not with slings or guns – but with cameras in the State.
Mrs Hume’s Pheasant is Mizoram’s State bird.
Under the aegis of the State CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority), the ASEP today organised a one-day sava veh (hunting of birds) at Aizawl Zoological Park in which 30 local wildlife photographers participated.
ASEP president K Lalmuansanga said his organisation has been organising day-long sava veh programmes under the theme “Shoot with a camera, not with a gun” since last year. “Through this programme, we have photographically documented more than 300 birds of different species in Mizoram,” he said.
“Shooting birds with catapults has been the tradition of Mizo boys. The one-day sava veh programme aims to do away with that tradition and instil in the minds of today’s young boys the need for preserving our State’s birds, in such a way that when a boy sees a bird, he would think of a camera and not about the catapult or a stone,” he said.
“Besides, we aim to make a photographic documentation of our State’s birds so that people, especially the younger generation, can visualise the birds which they know only by names, and to promote Mizoram as a paradise of birds,” he added.
ASEP is happy that its long years of wildlife awareness campaign has started to bear positive fruits as a good number of hunters in villages have surrendered their guns and traps, and young boys their catapults, and pledged that they would never kill birds or other wild animals again.
“Unlike their fathers, today’s kids have realised the need to protect wild animals and birds. We can see that many birds have come back to Aizawl,” the ASEP president said.
“We have also seen a rise in number of wildlife photographers. We thank birders, who have spent a lot of time and money in capturing the State’s birds at their own expense,” he said. With more than 500 species of birds, Mizoram is said to be among world’s top hotspots for birds.
According to ornithologists, of more than 500 species of birds in Mizoram, four have been declared critically endangered, one endangered, five vulnerable, seven near-threatened and nine restricted.
Among the rare species of birds, Chinese Babax is found only in Mizoram within the Indian limits. Mrs Hume’s Pheasant is the State bird of Mizoram and among other worth-watching species are Blyth’s Tragopan, Khasi Hills or Dark Rumped Swift, Great Pied Hornbill and White-Winged Wood Duck.
There are past records of Great White-bellied Heron and Rufous-necked Hornbill. The status of rare green Peafowl is not known.
Environmentalists have held the jhum agriculture, logging and cultivation in the valleys, hunting and the proposed hydro-electric projects responsible for the large-scale habitat destruction.
Mizoram falls under the ‘Indo-Burma global biodiversity hotspot’ and the ‘Eastern Himalaya Endemic Bird Area’.
The entire State is hilly and mountainous and is also at a higher altitude than many countries, including the Netherlands and Switzerland.