WILDLIFE: Decibel blow to bird den

WILDLIFE: Decibel blow to bird den – honkers will be prosecuted ?!!

A flock of open-bill storks at the Kulik sanctuary - 'do not disturb' signs necessary ?!! (Nantu Dey)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Raiganj, Aug. 27: Vehicles speeding along NH34 with air horns blaring are a potential threat to the successful rearing of hundreds of fledglings by open-bill storks roosting at the Kulik Bird Sanctuary.

This year, according to divisional forest officer Apurba Sen, the breeding has been good with no storms or adverse weather taking a toll on the birds and their young ones.

Given the situation, the DFO has turned to the district administration to implement the ban on air horns and their use when the vehicles pass along the sanctuary along the highway.

The habitat was ideal for the waders and waterfowl as the canal running through the sanctuary had been cleaned and there were enough snails and molluscs for the birds to feed on, the DFO said. Apart from the open-bills, cormorants and night herons also come to Kulik to nest during the monsoon months.

“The birds, particularly open-bill storks, come here to breed and set up their rookery as the sanctuary offers them shelter, safety and food. Over the years we have successfully fenced off the entire area and warded off people who used to sneak in and steal eggs and hatchlings from the sanctuary,” Sen said.

The national highway near the Kulik sanctuary forest - best to put up bill boards with some civic sense messages: "Hush!! birds at prayers" ?!! (Nantu Dey)

The DFO said earlier a one-kilometre stretch between the Kulik bridge and the sericulture department office had been declared a no-horn zone. “However, the buses and trucks plying this stretch do not adhere to the order. The high decibels and the shrill air horns can have an adverse effect on the hatchlings and they can even die because of shock. We do not have the manpower to implement the ban and that is why I have written to the administration and police to take care of the problem,” Sen said.

An air horn gives out more than 80 decibels of sound, 15 decibles more than the permissible limit.

North Dinajpur district magistrate Sunil Dandapat said signboards had been put up in the silence zones. “It is now up to the drivers of the vehicles to adhere to the appeal. However, I will speak to the motor vehicles department and the police on how to stop this,” Dandapat said.

Subhas Das, the driver of a private bus that plies the Raiganj-Siliguri route, said he was aware of the silence zone while driving past the sanctuary twice a day. “But we are helpless. Right in front of the forest, there is a sharp U-turn and drivers are forced to use horns to warn coming traffic,” he said.

Poison whiff in calf death – through pesticides in the water pools, like a few days earlier when 3 children were killed, any check on old pesticides dumping ?!!

Elephant calf dead - gardens responsible for pesticide dumping ?!! (Darpan)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY BIRESWAR BANERJEE

Siliguri, Aug. 27: The body of an elephant calf was found in a tea garden near here this morning and with no external injury marks evident, forest officials suspect the animal may have died of poisoning induced by pesticides.

Foresters from Kurseong division and Sukna wildlife squad had been patrolling Simulbari Tea Estate, 20km from here, since last night when a herd of 40 elephants was spotted in the nearby Bamonpokhri and Lamagumba forest beats and the fringes of the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary.

The foresters were apprehensive that the herd might enter the garden.

“It was raining heavily last night. When we saw the herd trying to enter the garden, our guards steered the animals away. Around 4am, we spotted the body of the calf in the plantation near Lamagumba beat,” said Narayan Chandra Roy, the additional divisional forest officer of Kurseong.

“Trampled grass in and around the area where the body was found, suggested that the calf was roaming there before it died. It was probably restless. This, and the fact that there was no injury marks on the body, make us suspect that the animal died of some kind of poisoning,” said Roy.

Foresters have collected water and grass samples from the spot to check for insecticides.

“We will send the samples along with the viscera for forensic tests to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory in Calcutta,” a forest official said.

He said pesticides could be the cause of the animal’s death.

(The Laced Tea We Humans Drink ?!! – so Tea now also hazardous to health ?!!)

“Pesticides are sprayed in tea estates regularly. Chemicals often trickle down from the tea bushes to the ground because of heavy rainfall, and contaminate the water and grass. The calf might have consumed this,” the forest official said.

The garden authorities were not available for comments.

“We have also collected samples of body organs that would be sent for tests,” said Malay Maiti, one of the two vets from the state animal resources development department posted in Siliguri who conducted the post-mortem.

The foresters have ruled out the possibility of the calf being ill or injured.

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