By Paojel Chaoba
IMPHAL, April 8: Indiscriminate hunting of local and migratory birds has disturbed the ecological balance in the forest areas of the state. One among the worst hit is said to be Tamenglong district.
At present, farmers are facing a tough time as orange trees and Parkia Timoriana, ‘yongchak’ trees which were thriving once at farms in the district have dried up.
“The production has gone down, earlier we used to fetch Rs 5000 from each yongchak tree and even more from oranges”, Ason Panmei, a troubled farmer told IFP.
Mention may be made that Tamenglong district is blessed with virgin forests, exotic orchids, rare and endangered plants and wildlife. The district occupies a total of 4,391 sq kms and has a population of 86,278.
The forests can be grouped as tropical ever-green forest, sub-tropical forest and bamboo brakes.
The dense tropical evergreen forests are located along both the sides of Irang and Barak rivers flowing in the district, varieties of ground flora, creepers, herbs and grasses are found here. The forests are rich in wildlife including wild pheasants, peafowl, jungle fowls are important birds of this area.
Further, during the month of October, migratory birds arrive at the forest area to feed and prepare for the next migration. During this time, hunters use fish nets and other wire traps to catch the birds.
Pellet cartridge and air rifles are also used to shoot the birds.
The birds are later sold at various small markets and mainly in Tamenglong headquarter market as live, smoked and fried forms and relished as a delicacy.
Professor Ranjan of Manipur University, a dedicated environmentalist told IFP that the main reason for the death of Yongchak and Orange plants can be attributed to certain factors.
He observed that the disturbance of the ecosystem is a main factor. “Birds from North China migrating to the state are slaughtered indiscriminately along with local birds, the insects which are on the food chain are left to multiply”. He stated that the pests which are eaten by birds are left undisturbed and left to drill the trunk of the trees thus causing death and decay.
It is stated by experts that the long horn beetle is one major pest for the fruit trees.
He further mentioned that the microwave frequency transmitted by mobile towers also influence bats. The bats which have temporary habitats on the Yongchak trees and feeds on insects and fruits are thus scattered.
Overall climate change due to deforestation is another main factor, he said.
He stated that for a sound eco system, people should have the nobility to stop over hunting of birds.
The district which boasted of having the highest concentration of bamboo growth has also been compromised due to the bamboo flowering (Mautam) in 2008 having an adverse effect to the economy of the district. As per records available, 13,879 families were affected by the bamboo flowering and the district is yet to fully recover.
It was also found out that the district Horticulture, Agriculture and Veterinary offices are presently lying in a state of defunct.