Poachers turn to other occupations

The incidence of poaching migratory birds in the metropolis has come down drastically over the years mainly due to the decreasing green cover and stringent measures taken up near marshlands and protected bird sanctuaries.

“Earlier, our community members used to specialise in using catapult and air guns to hit water birds, but, now, with the forest department remanding narikoravas for such acts, the younger gypsies are becoming casual labourers in the construction industry,” says M. Muthu, a gypsy residing in Selaiyur.

Confirming the trend of declining poaching cases in the Chennai area, city wildlife warden Karuna Priya said poaching in the city has reduced to a great extent due to the combination of several factors.

Public awareness on wildlife crimes has grown and there is good information on poachers from Chennaiites. Further, patrol and surveillance near water bodies that attract birds have been enhanced. This is particularly so during the weekends. The local field rangers inspect the lake bunds and markets to check whether migratory birds are being sold for consumption, the official explained.

“Our community members are spread across the city but we are concentrated in the Thirumullaivoyal area. But, even there, the youngsters are no longer into hunting birds. Either they sell catapults or beads,” explains Kamala Dasan, another gypsy.

It may be noted that in the past two years, over two dozen people have been arrested by rangers working in Velachery, Pallikaranai, Tambaram and Chengalpet. The wildlife department had in the past three years seized over 50 dead migratory birds, including pelicans, sandpipers, herons and egrets.

When poaching of star tortoises was rampant in parts of Andhra Pradesh, Chennai airport was a transit point for the poachers. But the trend changed from 2009. Incidence of poaching in and around Chennai has also come down to a great extent, confirmed wildlife officials.

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