COIMBATORE: Birds in Achankulam lake face a threat from poaching as hunters continue to trap the birds for illegal trade and consumption of meat. Such incidents appear to be thriving unnoticed due to a lack of monitoring by the Forest Department. The lake is spread over 396 acres in Kulathur near Neelambur and is known as a birds' paradise.
On Saturday evening, V Chithran, a bird enthusiast visited the lake with his friends to click photographs. On the bank, they found that a trap had been placed.
"The water body is two km away from the national highway, despite which the bird movement is observed throughout the day which encourages enthusiasts to visit the lake and document migratory birds found in it."
"On Saturday, I was able to see the trap only when I went closer to the shore to take a closer look. We suspect that it was placed to trap wading birds such as common sandpiper, red-wattled lapwing, etc. Once a bird steps on the trap, its legs are entangled in it and subsequently its neck when the bird frantically attempts to free itself," he explained.
Soon after spotting the trap, Chithran called 180042545456, the toll-free number of the Coimbatore forest division, and was allegedly informed that not enough staff were available lack of staff strength. Chithran said he removed the trap.
A Paventhan, a birder, said that as many as 207 species of birds, both migratory and local birds, were recorded over the last 6-7 years and appealed to the forest department to take measures to stop their hunting which is illegal under the Wildlife Protection Act. The department was also urged to create awareness among the local people on how the birds contribute to the conservation of nature and why they need to be protected.
According to Chithran, "Not only in Achankulam but wildlife in other lakes in Coimbatore is also under threat. Mongoose is poached from Singanallur lake, and bird poaching is rampant in Pallapalayam lake. Apart from bird hunting, poachers also target hares for their meat. If the Forest Department appoints a guard in these lakes permanently, it will help in protecting the birds from poachers."
District Forest Officer (DFO) TK Ashok Kumar said, "We have asked our team to look into the issue and are also planning to work with volunteers to curtail the incidents of poaching in future."
S Banumathi a farmer and coordinator of Achankulam Padukappu Sangam, expressed readiness to work with the Forest Department for protecting the lake which offers refuge to not only birds species but also butterflies. "We are creating an island to facilitate resting for birds and are planning to strengthen security at the front portion of the lake to prevent the entry of suspicious people. Our aim is to create awareness among school and college students on birds, butterflies etc. found here," she added.