Rampant Bird Poaching Activities in West and East Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh.

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The nine coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh are favourable habitats for resident and migratory water birds. Among these, a few sites have been recognized as Important Bird Areas (IBA) and potential Ramsar Sites. Every year, from October to May, different species of water birds, including threatened species, visit coastal and inland wetlands like mudflats, mangrove creeks, water ponds, agricultural fields and lagoons for food and shelter. These water birds play a key role in many wetland ecosystems in Andhra Pradesh. … Read More

Poaching in Rajarhat, Kolkata

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Rajarhat wetlands (a neighbourhood of Kolkata, in North 24 Parganas district) have become a poachers paradise with numerous trap nets being placed in strategic locations across water bodies, marshes and paddy fields. These nets are quite big (about 10-15 feet in length and about 4-5 feet in width) and strung across bamboo poles. The nets are made of strings so thin that they are not clearly visible from a distance unless viewed carefully. Birds fly into the nets and get … Read More

Bird Poaching in Bangalore’s Wetlands

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Bird poaching was one of the pressures that birds in the city faced in the 90’s. It was thought to have died down since then. So much so that, during the planning of the Bangalore Mid Winter Water Bird survey 2015-2016, the coordinators and those assisting in planning the survey had considered dropping some of the parameters such as bird netting, bird shooting, poaching, trapping, etc. However, we were in for a rude shock when we visited a few survey … Read More

Saving the Spoon-billed Sandpiper in Bangladesh

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The first specimen of the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Eurynorhynchus pygmeus) was collected in mid-19th century from Bangladesh. The country also holds the record for the highest single count of the bird anywhere in the world — 202 birds in 1989 from Moulevir Char (Bakewell & Howes 1989)!

That was history.

The bird has since undergone a drastic decline in its population. According to Birdlife International, this charismatic species is listed as Critically Endangered because of its extremely small population … Read More

Pelican Poaching, Chennai

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This image is one of a series of pictures I took on 1st January 2013 while watching birds at Chennai’s Kelambakkam lake. This brackish backwater lake is home to a lot of migrant and resident bird species throughout the year.

This is also a haven for poachers who regularly target this place for large number of local and migratory birds during winter for the excessive demand for meat on weekends. In this instance, it didn’t seem like organised poaching but … Read More

Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation in Bangladesh

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Considering its grim current global status, a group of young ornithologists in Bangladesh took up the challenge to save the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper in 2009, when they began the Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project (BSCP).

Their surveys confirmed that Bangladesh is an extremely important wintering ground for the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, and identified Sonadia Island (near Cox’s Bazar) as the key wintering site and Domar Char as a stopover (passage) site in the country. In Sonadia Island, they found evidence … Read More

Pond Heron fatally entangled in fishing net

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We found this Indian Pond Heron or Paddybird (Ardeola grayii) fatally entangled in a plastic fishing net, at Hoskote kere (lake), rural Bangalore, on 28th December, 2013. I did not how to address the problem, and posted the picture on my Facebook page. Miraculously, someone on my timeline took up the issue with officials locally in Hoskote, and the farmers were told to remove the net. My friend went a few days later and confirmed that the net was indeed … Read More

Life between Net and Death in Chilika

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I was on a planned trip to Chilika’s Teen Muhana (Three River Mouths) with friends from Odisha, to watch migratory waterfowl of the great wetland. We started early in the morning from Mangalajodi on a hired boat. It was a lovely winter morning and the sun had gently warmed up the lake, where we witnessed large congregations of waterfowl.

Our first stop was at a very small island no.7 for 10 minutes. As we proceeded again towards Teen Muhana, … Read More

Brutal hunting of birds, Baisha Bil, West Bengal

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On the morning of 5th September 2013, Sourav Mondal and I went to Baisha Bil (wetland) on a birding outing. There were hundreds of Baya Weavers, Zitting Cisticolas, and other birds in the wetland. We were shocked to see two people trapping many of these birds (mainly Baya Weavers) using nets. We heard from the local people that other birds, such as the Open-billed Stork, Little Egret, Pond Heron, and Lesser whistling Duck, are also trapped and killed in this … Read More

Pelican Poaching in Kanva Dam, Channapatna, Karnataka

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Kishan SB, Deepak Jois, Amith Kumar, Aravind S and I had gone to Kanva Dam, (which is behind Kengal temple on the Mysore-Bangalore highway near Channapatna) on the afternoon of 18th Feb 2013. There was a lot of water in the dam. We could see Painted Storks, River Terns, Whiskered Terns, Spot-billed Ducks, Black-winged stilts and Black-tailed Godwits in the water.

There were a flock of five Grey or Spot-billed Pelicans (Pelecanus philippensis). As we were watching them … Read More

Poisoning Egrets for a Village Booze Party

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I recently witnessed a grotesque ritual in my village, Rettanai, near Chennai, Tamil Nadu. We grow paddy at our farm there, and the flooded fields form a nice breeding ground for frogs and crabs which attract egrets. One evening, three young men came to our farm and asked permission to cross our farm to go to the neighboring field. They were carrying an assorted collection of stuff in their hands, and out of curiosity I asked them what they intended … Read More

Bird Poachers Caught Red-handed at Kelambakkam Lake, Chennai

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I took this image of two poachers trapping waders (mainly little stints) flying low over Kelambakkam lake near Chennai and getting trapped in mesh nets. I was birding along the lake accompanied by Vaithiyanathan, also a birdwatcher and photographer. Both of us are members of the Photographic Society of Madras (PSM).

When we reached the lake, I saw two people crouched on one of the small islands in the backwaters. I took a test shot with my camera to check … Read More

Hunting Downstream of Himayat Sagar Reservoir Near Hyderabad

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On the morning of 8th July, 2012, a little after 9 AM, I visited a place downstream of the Himayat Sagar Reservoir, about 20 kms away from Hyderabad. On my way I heard the sound of a gun shot, followed by panic stricken cries of Spot-billed Ducks, Peafowl and other birds. Upon reaching the spot, I saw two men, one of whom was perched on a bare tree with a rifle, while the other was resting on the opposite bank.  … Read More

Birdwatchers Help Nab Waterfowl Poachers in Siruthavur Lake Near Chennai

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Two and half of hours of drama unfolded at the Siruthavur lake this morning (3rd June 2012). Five of us from the Madras Naturalists Society (MNS) had come to watch and photograph birds in Siruthavur lake, 40 km from Chennai in Tiruvallur district. The lake was full of birds when we arrived around 7 AM. Just as we reached the lakeshore we heard gunshots. We saw grey herons fall followed by egrets. The shots lasted for half an hour or … Read More

Large-scale Waterfowl Slaughter in Puducherry

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Every day, hundreds of waterfowl (both resident and migratory) and other animals notified in Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, meet with a fatal end in Puducherry (Pondicherry, Union Territory). A large number of gypsies or narikoravas, hunt these birds and sell the meat right under the nose of the Forest Department. Birds are caught at the nearby Oussudu Lake (which is notified as a bird sanctuary) and openly sold for their meat at roadside stalls on Koodapakkam … Read More

Duck Hunting At Karenahalli Kere, Bangalore

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At around 11 a.m. on the Bangalore Bird Race Day, Suma Rao, Gayathri Naik, Garima Bhatia, Jainy Maria and I were birding at Karenahalli kere, one of the lakes off Kanakapura Road, just past Somanahalli in the outskirts of Bangalore. Our attention was focussed on a flock of about 30-35 lesser whistling teals, when we heard a gunshot, and the entire flock took to the air. Right across the lake from us, we could see a lone injured duck flapping … Read More

Mangalajodi — A Village Of Bird Protectors In Orissa

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How do you convert a village of hardened poachers into committed conservationists? Read on to find out.

Mangalajodi village is situated on the banks of Chilika lake in Odisha (formerly Orissa). Chilika Lake is a brackish water lake, with lagoonal characteristics, spread over the Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Orissa state on the east coast of India. It is Asia’s largest brackish water lake. It is the largest wintering ground for migratory birds in the Indian subcontinent. The lake … Read More