Five more birds found dead

Jorhat, Feb. 13: Four migratory birds were found dead and fivemore poisoned but alive today in yet another incident of the winged guests being killed in waterbodies along the Brahmaputra on the outskirts of Jorhat.

The death toll has gone up to 39 in a span of 22 days with several organisations calling for special drive by the forest and police departments to curb poaching of birds.

Forest department sources said carcasses of four grey-legged geese, while five found ill because of poisoning, were recovered from Kodomani Beel (waterbody) near the Neematighat area close to the Brahmaputra.

Post-mortem conducted on the carcasses confirmed that the birds died from poisoning.

Assistant research officer of Jorhat veterinary hospital, Dr C.K. Sinha, told The Telegraph that the grey-legged geese died from acute poisoning following intake of toxic materials.

He said the five ill birds have been treated and their possibility of survival was bright. Divisional forest officer (Jorhat) N.K. Malakar said as the birds were responding to treatment, the department was thinking of releasing them.

"We are thinking of releasing the birds to the waterbody after taking the advice of veterinary hospital officials," Malakar said.

On January 22, carcasses of 18 grey-legged geese were recovered from a beel at Doloni Pathar in Mauthgaon near Bahona Tiniali and on February 4 carcasses of 17 bar-headed geese were recovered from the same area.

Both the incidents triggered protests from local units of students' bodies and NGOs involved in bird conservation. They put up road blockades, took out processions and organised demonstrations in front of the DFO office here.

A public meeting was held at Bahona Tinali on February 6 with the initiative of the forest department to form a peace committee involving several local organisations but the bid failed as local people alleged that the forest department and the police were "going soft" on the matter. Locals demanded that first the forest department and the police should carry out drives in the area and arrest culprits responsible for killing the "winged guests".

Asom Jatiyatibadi Yuba Chatra Parishad president (Jorhat district) Shiba Kalita blamed the forest department for the killings, saying it was not giving proper attention to the matter and as a result, unscrupulous elements were finding it easy to target the migratory birds.

These birds come in large numbers during winter from European and east Asian countries to several waterbodies along the Brahmaputra.

The DFO, while refuting the allegations, said the department was intensifying patrolling by staff in the areas housing waterbodies in the wee hours, and as a result they were able to recover the birds early this morning.

Malakar said the department, along with the police, would soon carry out drives at roadside dhabas (eateries), where meat of migratory birds is allegedly served.

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