March 29, 2021 2:45:54 am
The forest department has registered an offence Sunday and are questioning five persons after workers of a private firm constructing a stretch of the Ghaduli-Santalpur highway allegedly relocated nests of slender-billed gulls and disturbed around 500 eggs and chicks.
The incident came to light two days ago when some birdwatchers found a few hundred eggs had been relocated from their nests on a stretch of the under-construction Ghaduli-Santalpur highway at Kandhvandh village in Bhuj taluka of Kutch.
“The incident took place on March 26 and 27. We have registered an offence of hunting the birds, which are included under Schedule-IV of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. We are questioning five persons who were working on the site,” Harsh Thakkar, deputy conservator of forests (DCF) of Kutch (east) territorial forest division, said. The area falls in Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary.
The DCF said the offence has been registered at Bhuj-North range office in Kutch (east) division and statements of the five men — Hirabhai Patel (43), Ramesh Dafda (45), Gani Sama (28), Pankaj Parmar (19) and Manish Sorathiya (28) – were being recorded.
“The birds laid eggs on a stretch of earthen embankment the contractor had constructed a few months ago, before the work was suspended.
They went to the site on March 16 to resume construction activities and spotted the nests. Our staff had visited the site and given them necessary instructions. Yet, the staff relocated the eggs,” Thakkar said. Around 500 eggs and a few chicks have been affected, he said.
The DCF said three nesting colonies, each having 40 to 60 nests, and a few chicks were sighted on the stretch. “Fourteen chicks were found dead when the incident had come to light. We spotted a few more mortalities Sunday, but given the extreme heat in the desert, these can be natural,” Thakkar said.
During their site visit, forest officials observed birds incubating their eggs. “It is difficult to say, at this stage, if the birds would abandon all the eggs relocated,” the DCF said, adding that the construction activity has been halted.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.