Pigeon-fancying is a popular hobby for many around India. Across the world, raptors are viewed as a threat to the pigeons kept by pigeon-fanciers. However, in Punjab (especially in the regions of Doaba and Malwa), some who participate in this activity have taken it upon themselves to deal with these threats in the most extreme manner.
Several shocking videos showing raptors, particularly falcons and accipiters, being caught and brutally “executed” have surfaced on online platforms such as Tik Tok, Whatsapp, and YouTube. These horrific videos show pigeon-fanciers talking about methods to catch these raptors using glue on perches, kite-string snares, guns, etc.
Some videos show these methods in “action”, while others take it so far as to show the hobbyists shooting down falcons, chopping off the head of a Shikra, and wringing the head off a Peregrine Falcon. Additionally, there are images being circulated of captured birds with clipped wings and broken legs (attached).
It appears that the species targeted most often include the migratory race of Peregrine Falcons (calidus) and Shikra. There is evidence to suggest these incidents take place regularly and are not limited to one area. A senior newspaper correspondent, Vikram Jit Singh, who has been reporting these incidents since 2018, believes the practice is widespread and is likely to be taking place in neighbouring states in north India (and in Pakistan).
All species of raptors fall under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 and any act involving prosecution of these birds is punishable by law.
Immediate steps should be actioned under the law by the authorities. This matter should also be brought to the notice of global raptor and migratory bird organisations so as to control this dastardly practice at the earliest. Vikram Jit Singh feels these fanciers be traced through cyber investigation and taken to task. Alongside, an awareness campaign should be launched via the leading lights of the pigeon-fancier community to put an end to this slaughter of the raptors.
Senior conservationists have already written to the authorities to take action and a campaign is being planned when the migratory raptors start arriving in October.