HYDERABAD: With Dasara round the corner, the forest department of Telangana has joined hands with local NGOs to educate the public on how religious superstition can lead to cruelty and harm the state bird of Telangana, Palapitta (Indian Roller or Blue Jay).
“In our state Palapittas are believed to bring luck when seen on the eve of Dasara festival. We don’t want to hurt any one’s sentiment or belief but those who believe that spotting the Indian Roller will bring them luck are requested to see the bird in the nature and not in the cage. Every year, numerous birds are captured by poachers and displayed near temples. In the process, the birds are often treated cruelly. Bringing awareness can save the bird and to do it we have joined hands with NGOs,” chief conservator of forests G.Chandrasekhar Reddy told reporters here on Monday.
C Samyukta, campaign manager, Wildlife, Humane Society International (India) said, “Right from the time of capture till their exhibition near temples, Indian Rollers are subjected to a lot of cruelty for the sake of tradition. Poachers tie the legs of the birds with a thread, trim their wings and stick them with glue to prevent them from flying. The birds are usually starved till the day of Dasara and kept in small cages for public viewing. Most of these birds die in captivity or immediately after release. “Poachers and traders exploit the belief that sighting of Palapittas will bring good fortune to people. We urge the people not to encourage this tradition but to celebrate a cruelty-free Dasara this year.”
N Pravallika, humane education officer, Blue Cross of Hyderabad, said, “For the past five years we have been fighting to save Palapittas. On Sunday a group of six members of our organisation visited nearly 100 temples in the city and pasted posters making a plea to people to save the Palapitta.” In September the Telangana government banned the display of the state bird at temples during Dasara festival.
This rare bird is protected under Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Violators of this Act will be awarded a penalty of Rs 25,000 and imprisonment for a period up to three years. The forest department has also designated a separate toll-free number, 18004255364, for people to lodge complaints against poachers of Palapittas.