4 lakh migratory birds expected to arrive at Hygam wetland this year

Hunting weapons seized by Wildlife Deptt from a wetland in North Kashmir's Sopore. -Excelsior/Aabid Nabi
Hunting weapons seized by Wildlife Deptt from a wetland in North Kashmir's Sopore. -Excelsior/Aabid Nabi

Anti-poaching drives to be stepped-up: Officials

Irfan Tramboo

SRINAGAR, Dec 4: With the increase in precipitation in Kashmir, authorities anticipate over 4 lakh migratory birds will arrive at Hygam Wetland in North Kashmir’s Sopore while the Wildlife Department has increased its vigilance against bird hunting to make the wetland safe and secure for visitors coming from various parts.
Mukhtar Ahmad Khan-who is the Range Officer of Wildlife Protection Force at Hygam Wetland and Wullar Lake-said that they have stepped up the patrolling, which, he said is a day and night process, and that the authorities have strictly directed for the protection of migratory birds at every cost.
“So far, there are over 1 lakh birds here. The arrival will increase with the start of rainfall and we are expecting over 4 lakh birds this year in the wetland; the rainfall will increase the water level in the wetlands and that will pave a way for more birds to arrive here; usually, after November end, we see the increase in the arrival of birds,” he said.
He said that, in the past some time, with the arrival of migratory birds, there have been cases of bird hunting and that the concerned teams have been acting swiftly to ensure action against the violators.
“We have, so far, seized 27 guns, which includes 24 paint guns, plus 3 with single barrels; the action will continue and we are ensuring that strict action is taken against the violators who are involved in the illegal bird hunting in and around the wetland,” he said.
Another official said that the department is getting the support of the forest protection force in curbing the poaching of birds and in the last 3 years they have seized several guns used to hunt migratory birds.
He said that the department is committed to keeping a check on bird hunting and for that several wings of the Wildlife Department are working in sync to achieve the set target.
“We have got the people from the Wildlife Protection Force and with them, we have set up a control room while the necessary works are being carried out in close coordination,” an official said.
Khan, however, noted the lack of manpower at Wular where he said that the protection force has got only one person doing the necessary work. “We have written to the department and that there is a need to attend to the shortcomings because only then we would be able to ensure that the migratory birds are protected,” he said.
He said that the drive against the illegal hunting of migratory birds will be intensified in the coming days to make the area safe and secure for the migratory birds. “The timely and swift action to make the area safe would increase the arrival of the number of migratory birds this year,” he said.