“No wonder,” one Arunachalee student of
The old folks of Yazali, Yachuli and Ziro, however, felt that the area is still quite rich in bird populations. Sight of birds in roadside and jhum or cultivated area depends on the different times of day and the different seasons of year. They also acknowledged having spotted almost all the bird species mentioned and illustrated in the Salim Ali’s ‘FIELD GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF THE EASTERN HIMALAYAS’ in the area, though not all of them have local names. They also agreed upon the fact that the numbers of various bird populations are dwindling due to hunting or may also be due to addition of more and more of forest land under cultivation area.
The bird populations, frequented in vicinity of cultivated area, are different species of pigeons, wagtails, kites, hawks, eagles, kingfishers, hoopoes, owls, hornbills, jungle fowls etc. A good number of migratory birds also visit this area. The birds such as heron, ducks, cranes and others used this area, especially the Ziro valley, as a stop over for their long journey from Siberia or
Hunting is quite popular in the area, particularly in Ziro valley. Ring road in Ziro has served at least one purpose- easy access to otherwise undisturbed wooded forest some four years ago. Today one sees hunters roaming about here with improvised guns, round the clock, and hunting whatever they see on their way- deer, monkey, birds and so on. Birds being the most easily visible prey are the soft target.
In fact hunting is a popular sport of the people of Arunachal. Along with illiterate and uneducated villagers, government officials and public leaders with improvised guns have joined the race. Such a culprit has been booked and punished elsewhere in the world but the law enforcing agencies of the state are, to some extent, blind to such activities.
“What a rubbish!” said an old man from Hari village when this author told him that the killing of birds such as hoopoe, hornbill etc., which are the threatened species, is offence against the law. “If birds are not to be hunted and relished, what is it for?” He is an illiterate lot. He is not aware of what we were taught in our schools; that every living organism has their own role in an ecosystem.
In fact birds are benefactor of man in many ways. They exercise a very important role of biological control. The birds such as flycatcher, hoopoe, woodpecker and others (in fact most of the birds) control the population of insect pests by feeding on them. In their absence, these pests would multiply in numbers and cause havoc to our commercial trees and crops. We can imagine how devastating these pests could be from the fact that when locusts move on in swarms, extending many kilometres, devour anything of grasses and leaves that come their way. Some birds known as the birds of prey such as owl, hawk eagle etc., kill and devour thousands of field mice, rats, ground squirrel etc., which are menace to our agricultural crops. Besides, they are an important agent of seed dispersal and thus conserve the forest. The man did not plant those huge trees of the woods; it is the birds, wild animals and some natural agents that did it. The bird that feeds on fruits of the tree also engulfs their seeds which come out with their droppings in some distant places and sprout out into seedlings.
Needles to mention, birds enhance the natural beauties of the area.
Moreover, in these days of eco-tourism, Arunachal Pradesh has huge potential to become its destination and bird watching and bird hunting (with cameras not with guns) are very much the part of the eco-tourists. Once we stop killing birds for our pleasure, restore their habitat and they are coming back in good numbers, we will be able to attract many such tourists, especially the foreign tourists, which will boost the tourism industry of the state.
Do we need to think twice before shouldering our responsibility? Let us save and protect our feathered friends. Hunting surely is an exciting sport. What a noble idea it would be to hunt birds and wild animals with cameras in place of guns!