Biju Patnaik Wildlife Conservation Award


    Shri Mahavir Pakshi Surakhshya Samiti Mangalajodi (constituted by ‘WILD ORISSA’ in 2000) awarded Biju Patnaik Wildlife Conservation Award for 2007 on 3rd October 2007 by Government of Orissa


    Government of Orissa bestowed the Biju Patnaik Wildlife Conservation Award for 2007 to Shri Mahavir Pakshi Surakhsya Samiti of Mangalajodi, constituted by Wild Orissa (a wildlife and nature conservation group) on 10th December 2000, on the 3rd of October 2007 at a function organized at Bhubaneswar, Orissa. The members of this bird protection committee were given the award by Hon’ble Chief Minister of Orissa Shri Naveen Patnaik.

    Background: Chilika Lake situated in the state of Orissa in India is a haven for birds both resident as well as migratory. Interwoven in an intricate human-nature pattern Chilika Lake is the country’s largest brackish waterbody. Every year lakhs of migratory waterfowl descend on these wetlands coming from far of countries. These birds had been facing the hazards of death at the hands of the local residents as well as outsiders. Poaching of birds/water fowl in the Chilka Lake has been going on for hundreds of years, causing irreparable damage to the avi-fauna of this fragile eco-system. Different forms of killing have been practised which includes use of nets, traps, guns, poisoning, etc. The method of poisoning employed in these wetlands has been responsible for maximum deaths as with a little effort thousands of birds are killed. Birds are considered a major delicacy in this part of the country, not for the least reason of, as most people in Orissa are non-vegetarian in food habits. A good quantity was consumed locally while much of these birds were regularly sold in the open market, at rates varying from Rs. 20.00 to Rs. 60.00 a piece, depending on the species and method of kill. This sale proceeds was and still is a very attractive proposition for killing waterfowl. A proficient poacher could earn anything between Rs. 10,000.00 to Rs. 40,000.00 in a year. The authorities were helpless watchers, as local sentiments as well as political involvement remained high, and concern for conservation was the least of priorities. Members of ‘Wild Orissa an organisation registered under the Societies Registration Act 1860, had ventured into the village of Mangalajodi on the northern shores of Chilika Lake since the year 1996-97. The initial visits were met with anxiety and expectations, and coupled with a lot of misgivings there was also a faint hope that may be with a lot of personal involvement the hunting in this village would subside. The beginning was difficult but slowly ‘Wild Orissa could manage to involve persons who were concerned for the birds. The long associations with these people of Mangalajodi have stood ‘Wild Orissa in good stead over the years.  During the early part of year 2000 the local Divisional Forest Officer Chilika Wildlife Division invited ‘Wild Orissa to involve its members in containing poaching/hunting of waterfowl in Chilika Lake. The knowledge of Mangalajodi and its inhabitants led to a very crucial development in the form of constitution of a bird protection committee by ‘Wild Orissaby name SRI MAHAVIR PAKHSHI SURAKSHYA SAMITI in the village Mangalajodi on the 10th of December 2000. This bird protection committee involved some of leading poachers/hunters of the village which has helped curb tremendously the poaching of water fowl, prevention of poaching of bird eggs for human consumption, etc. Similarly 7 more bird protection committees were constituted by ‘Wild Orissa’ in other poaching prone villages around/in Chilika Lake. This initiative on the part of ‘Wild Orissa lead to a drastic fall in poaching. Some of these one time poachers/hunters amongst others were motivated to be die-hard conservationists through the praise worthy efforts of the Governor Tangi Regional Chapter of ‘Wild Orissa Shri Nanda Kishore Bhujabal at Tangi, alongwith other members from ‘Wild Orissa, against all odds. One time poachers participated in major way in the bird conservation programme of our organization. They undertook surveillance and patrolling, on their own as well as in co-ordination with members of ‘Wild Orissa and the state forest department staff, in the Mangalajodi Chilika area and adjoining waters in Chilika Lake. During the year 2001 the Chilika Development Authority involved itself in the bird protection activities so initiated, and undertook surveys of the waterfowl-breeding habitat in Mangalajodi alongwith members of ‘Wild Orissaand Sri Mahavir Pakhshi Suraksya Samiti. The methodology adopted in Mangalajodi involved the following: -

    1. Direct intervention by way apprehending poachers operating in the waters of Chilika Lake, with prior information on such activities, alongwith members of ‘Wild Orissa’ and forest staff.
    2. Monitoring with members of ‘Wild Orissa’ in the waters, especially in the poaching prone areas adjoining Mangalajodi waters, in both motorboats as well as in boats procured from local sources.
    3. Patrolling with members of ‘Wild Orissa’ and forest staff, during odd hours, against poaching of bird eggs.
    4. Holding of regular meetings with the members of the bird protection committee of Mangalajodi.
    5. Holding meetings with the forest staff of Tangi Wildlife Range and Mangalajodi Section.
    6. Outings with visiting scientists from the Bombay Natural History Society etc., to the breeding habitats.
    7. Involvement of school children in boat excursions to the bird breeding habitats.
    8. Organising competitions on Chilika Lake and its birds, amongst school children of the area.
    9. Seeking interventions of the Chief Wildlife Warden, Irrigation Department, Chilika Development Authority, etc., on the fragile waterfowl breeding habitats.
    10. Ensuring some income generation for the poacher turned conservationists, which could help mitigate the poor economic conditions of these people, which would ensure their continuous involvement in water fowl conservation, through initiation of an Eco-Tourism Project in Mangalajodi village in the year 2003.
    Hon’ble Chief Minister of Orissa had awarded the Pakhshi Bandhu Award to the Sri Mahavir Pakshi Surakshya Samiti of Mangalajodi during the course of the wildlife week celebrations during the year 2001. The conservation programme of ‘Wild Orissahas been supported by the Chilika Development Authority, Bombay Natural History Society, State Wildlife Wing Orissa, etc