Forest authorities in Gandhinagar have issued an advisory on birding, which asked forest enthusiasts to stay away from photography or videography of birds from close proximity or circulating details about their habitats, as it may not only put the life of the latter in danger, but also attract criminal charges for the concerned birdwatchers under the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act.
Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF) of Gandhinagar district, SM Damor had issued the advisory earlier this month in the form of an appeal. The advisory asked environment lovers to not indulge in birding from close proximity of the birds, their nests on trees or tree holes, and not photograph or take videos of the birds from close proximity. The appeal also expected the birders to not circulate the location of the birds’ nesting via any medium including social media, since it would put the latter’s lives and nesting in danger. The appeal also sounded a warning that doing the same will attract criminal charges under the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act.
District forest authorities issued the unusual advisory after a controversial episode last month, when two Indian Grey Hornbill chicks, having nested in a hole of a tree opposite the state forest headquarters Aranya Bhavan, had died during the rains. The episode became controversial as the deaths were linked with some birders in the state capital who, while following the nesting for some time, had allegedly tried to capture the chicks in the nest from close proximity by attaching a mobile phone to a bamboo stick. A video capturing the incident had also gone viral on social media. An environmentalist had made a representation to the forest authorities in this regard.
Indian Grey Hornbill is a protected species under Schedule-I of the Wildlife Protection Act.
A senior forest officer from Gandhinagar said, “Even before the representation, we had suo motu ordered an inquiry into the episode. Statements of the persons (birders) who were seen in the video were also recorded. The inquiry found that nesting of Indian Grey Hornbill at that spot has been there for the past three years. This year, too, the bird had laid eggs and there were three chicks. Out of the three young ones, one had started flying and two others were not flying.”
“A group of bird watchers were following the bird’s nesting. The inquiry found that they got suspicious about the well-being of the two chicks, who were not flying. Since the nesting was on a branch at an angle, they fixed a mobile with a bamboo and tried to check the well-being of the chicks…Their intention was not to kill a bird, but they were a little overenthusiastic. They should have informed forest officials instead of taking things into their own hands…It became a bit controversial.”
Gandhinagar DCF SM Damor said that his office had issued the advisory so that birders do not go overboard with regard to their enthusiasm towards birds. He added that there was no FIR in the episode since there was no criminal intention on the part of the birders.
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