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, another boat ahead with around 6-7 fishermen were shouting at us to change course and move away from the area. This comes under Satpada range. Our guide – a reformed poacher and member of the bird protection committee – Mahavir Pakshi Suraksha Samiti, smelt trouble. We proceeded onward, while the boat ahead just propelled away. At a distance, a black & white floating body of a waterfowl confirmed our worst fears. It was further accentuated when we saw the fishing nets had trapped around 6 tufted ducks. Most of them were dead, except one. Our guide immediately untangled all the birds and was able set the live bird free. The fishing net was retrieved and sunk to the bottom of the lake.
An unfortunate day for the birds in what is probably a regular occurrence as is in wetlands across India. But an exemplary demonstration of bird protection by the guide in a challenging and vast landscape that is Chilika.
Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'
Hunting of waterfowl is rampant and widely prevalent across India's wetlands. If you come across any such incidents please do document them and report them immediately to local law enforcement officials.