Mass killing of birds reported in Mizoram

Aizawl, 10 Feb (TNN): Locals on Tuesday reported mass killing of birds by miscreants bearing guns in the forest near Khamrang village in Kolasib district along the Mizoram-Assam border. The reports prompted state environment and forest department officials as well as environmentalists to rush to the area to apprehend the bird hunters.

General secretary of the Green Mizoram Network Rothuama Sailo said although the environmental activists and forest officials could not catch the bird hunters, they collected evidence that proves such mass killing of birds has been going on in the area. Sailo said that the hunters were reportedly from Aizawl and were armed with sophisticated weapons. "The hunters can kill hundreds of birds in a day with the guns," he said.

Demand for bird meat had resulted in a sharp decline in the population of birds in this hilly northeastern state, which has hundreds of bird species, including migratory birds visiting the state from across international borders. Until the 1980s, bird-hunting was a favourite past-time of tribal Mizo youths. They would kill the birds, mostly for meat, with hand-held catapults in the jungle and in the safety reserves near their villages. The tribal boys would consume the bird meat themselves and sell any extra birds they killed.

In subsequent years, efforts to spread mass awareness by the Young Mizo Association (YMA), the largest community-based organization of the Mizos, and environment activists resulted in a sharp decline of bird hunting in the state. However, there were still some people who hunt birds for money and sell them in local markets, while some hunters even resorted to mass killing of birds by poisoning them.

Environmentalists expressed the fear that unless the current spate of mass killing of birds is checked, the ecological balance in the state would be severely affected, resulting in a serious depletion in the biodiversity of the region.
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