Kendrapara, Dec 10 (LoclWire): Poachers are on the rampage in Bhitarkanika and its nearby areas even as large number of migratory birds settle down in the national park.
‘Poaching birds picked up pace recently at Talachua, Rangani, Bagapatia, Sailendranagar, Gupti and many other villages within the park as their meat is served as delicacies,’ alleged Bijay Kabi, an environmentalist and honorary wildlife warden of the park.
‘I wrote a letter to the PCCF (wildlife) on Monday to take stern action against the venal forest officials who have been letting off bird poachers after receiving money from them. Killing birds can incur penalty of upto seven years in prison under Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972,’ added Kabi.
‘Bird meat is served even in road-side dhabas and hotels of the district but forest officials are not taking any action against them,’ alleged Kabi.
A villager of Talachua said, ‘The birds are being hunted and sold as chicken meat in many hotels.’
‘Large areas of mangrove forests and wetlands were destroyed by prawn farm mafias and as a result winter birds are now not seen in these areas.
It is sad if these protected birds are being attacked and killed,’ said Nrusingh Behera a villager of Iswarapur within the park.
Some bird trappers also kill birds by laying poisoned traps in the wetlands. Eating poisonous birds is injurious to health and bird meat eaters have often fallen ill.
‘Each migratory bird fetches between Rs 100 to Rs 200, Due to stark poverty, villagers indulge in this crime and forest officials have so far failed to check them,’ alleged Biswanath Behera a social worker of Kendrapada.
Bikash Ranjan Dash, the divisional forest officer of the park said, ‘Forest guards are patrolling the park regularly.
We have also established 16 camps in the park and its nearby areas to protect the birds.’