Prevention of Poaching of Waterfowl in Chilika Lake with Community Participation Program

    In the year 1997 the Prevention of Poaching of Waterfowl in Chilika Lake with Community Participation Program of Wild Orissa was launched which veered towards the menace of large scale poaching of migratory and non-migratory waterfowl in Chilika Lake. From 1997 to 2000 many hours were spent by members of Wild Orissa in the Chilika waters as well as in the many villages in and around Chilika to spend time with the locals and discuss with them the problems of waterfowl poaching. Poachers were identified, their modus operandi studied. Then, came the more difficult part of convincing them to give up killing. The year 2000 as well as 2001 was particularly successful for ‘Wild Orissa’ as stupendous success was chalked out in convincing hunters and poachers from 8 villages, namely Sorona, Mangalajodi, Sundarpur, Kumandala, Jatiapatna, Chilikasahi, etc., who decided to forsake killing of waterfowl. These poachers were then drafted to associate themselves into bird protection committees by Wild Orissa, in which the Secretary of each such committee was the local Forester of the state forest department, to ensure a healthy co-ordination. Considered as a much sought after delicacy in this part of the country, as well as a rich source of protein, waterfowl were sold in dhabas or roadside eateries. The intervention of Wild Orissa and the setting up of bird protection committees led to a dramatic fall in killings. The bird protection committees set up by Wild Orissa are:

    •  Shri Mahavir Pakshi Surakshya Samiti, Mangalajodi

    •  Ma Pakshi Surakshya Samiti, Sorona

    •  Bird Protecting Club Muslim Basti, Sorona

    •  Sri Raghunathdeb Pakshi Surakshya Samiti, Kumandala

    •  Muktesar Pakshi Surakshya Samiti, Sundarpur

    •  Ma Nagajhara Mangala Surakshya Samiti, Chilikasahi

    •  Ma Mangala Pakshi Surakshya Samiti, Jatiapatna and Matiapada.

    The success was noticed and the Chief Minister of Orissa Naveen Patnaik bestowed the PAKSHI BANDHU AWARD (Friends of Birds Award) to the Shri Mahavir Pakhsi Surakhshya Samiti of Mangalajodi (the bird protection committee of Mangalajodi) and Bird Protecting Club of Sorona (the bird protection committee of Sorona) at the wildlife week celebrations in the year 2001. The results are showing over the years. As per official census reports of Mangalajodi from a figure of about less than 6000 birds in the year 1998-99, a figure of less than 5000 birds in the year 1999-2000, a figure of less than 10,000 birds in the year 2000-2001, to a figure of 2, 25,000 during 2001-2002 and a figure of 3, 00,000 birds in the year 2003-2004, clearly shows the effective methods used by Wild Orissa to control the menace of bird poaching. Some of the hunters who gave up poaching have been sanctioned loans by Allahabad Bank and Chilika Development Authority, due to Wild Orissa’s interventions, as a measure to assist them in rehabilitation. Further Wild Orissa has started an eco-tourism venture in the year 2002 in Mangalajodi village to enable the poachers of this village who had forsaken killings to earn a livelihood. With the association of the Chilika Development Authority Watch Towers, a Bird Interpretation Hall, Jetty, Trained Eco-Guides, etc. have been provided at Mangalajodi from 2005.