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Drones pose threat to winged visitors, raptors

With many groups of drone fliers migrating from Hoskote to Hessarghatta, the flying of these remote controlled (RC) aircraft has been causing bird deaths in the pristine grassland of late. 

Published: 08th January 2018 03:53 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th January 2018 08:40 AM   |  A+A-

Enthusiasts flying remote controlled aircraft at Hessarghatta, the last remaining grassland in Bengaluru, which poses a serious threat to birds

Express News Service

BENGALURU: With many groups of drone fliers migrating from Hoskote to Hessarghatta, the flying of these remote controlled (RC) aircraft has been causing bird deaths in the pristine grassland of late. One can see many groups of drone enthusiasts indulging in this activity without realising the serious impact on the biodiversity of this unique habitat.

Forest officials say action will be taken against people who have been causing injuries or death to birds or animals inhabiting this area.

Spread across a 300-acre area of Hessarghatta, this land is said to be the last remaining grassland in and around Bengaluru. Further, this area is a site for several wintering migratory birds from Europe and Central Asia as also several species of raptors.

“Despite several warnings, the activity has been going on for the last 7-9 months. It has caused the deaths of pariah kites and a few other bird species and also resulted in injuries to grazing cows and wild dogs. According to local residents, fliers arrive in the morning hours in groups of 6-7 every weekend,” said Bengaluru (Rural) honorary Wildlife Warden A Prasanna Kumar.

“Villagers have reported the deaths of a few birds due to the activity. They have also reported a few people using their remote-controlled aircraft to chase raptor birds, which are attracted by the colourful flying objects at low heights,” he added.

According to rcindia.org, RC (radio-controlled) flying in Hoskote was stopped and prohibited by the Forest Department in early 2016. Drone hobbyists subsequently started searching for new locations and finally zeroed in on Hessarghatta Lake area.

“If these groups of drone enthusiasts are doing it for entertainment and not harming any avian species, we have no problem. But if they are harming or causing death of bird species, cases will be booked against them. Action will be initiated soon by the forest officer concerned,” said a senior Forest Department official.

Rich bird species

Hessarghatta grasslands are the only existing ‘open grasslands’ in and around Bengaluru. Every winter, it witnesses 60-70 birders recording various species of wintering birds. Between October and March, a record number of 130 bird species have been recorded by birding groups. Further, documentation has shown the presence of 2,000 water birds of 29 species.

Illegal entry
Hessarghatta lake bed area is closed for all recreational activities. The gate is locked and a caution of public notice and ‘no entry’ sign board have been put up outside. But drone hobbyists still throng this area.

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