Little Cormorant (photo courtesy: wikipedia)
A Kerala government scheme that proposes the culling of fish-eating birds Little Cormorant (Phalacrocorax niger) in Kollam district as "the birds prey on fish and deplete the wealth of inland water bodies" has both horrified and surprised the environmental activists and organizations. The proposal is despite these birds being protected under the Wildlife Protection Act.
|The scheme, under the Integrated District Development Plan (IDDP) for Kollam, will be implemented during 2009-10 by the State Fisheries Department in coordination with the Forest Department and local self-government institutions.
||The IDDP scheme report states that these fish-eating birds are a major cause for the depletion of fish wealth in inland water bodies.
The IDDP scheme report states that these fish-eating birds are a major cause for the depletion of fish wealth in inland water bodies. Fishermen depending on inland water fishing for their livelihood have expressed concern over this for long.
The report avers that the time has come for controlling the little cormorant population. The birds are gregarious in nature and are voracious fish-eaters, the report says. "Anyone observing the birds in inland water bodies will certainly endorse the concern of the fishermen", mentions the government report.
Little Cormorant (Phalacrocorax niger) - photo courtesy: birding.in
The report highlights that the population of these birds in the Kollam district at present is 1,00,000 and the plan is to cull 70 per cent of these birds. With an outlay of Rs 4 lakh, the scheme has devised an incentive of Rs 5 a bird to the trained person who guns down the bird with an air gun.
The news, meanwhile, has left the environmentalists furious. While some like K.K. Sivakumar, State Education Officer of the World Wildlife Fund, have rubbished the scheme as "foolish and a violation of the law," others like the environmental activist N Ravi are confident that the Forest Department would reject the scheme.
Sivakumar said since the birds are covered by the Wildlife Protection Act it is the duty of the government to protect them. Inland water bodies are the natural habitat of the birds. If they are a threat to fish farms, the owners can only strive to keep the birds at bay. They cannot be eliminated, he added.
He reiterated that the scheme would be opposed and the WWF would create awareness against it if the Kerala government decided to go ahead with it.
|The scheme has been mentioned on page number 57 of the IDDP executive plan, released by Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac.
||The Animal Welfare Board of India plans to move the court if the scheme is implemented. A.G. Babu, member of the board, said little cormorants came under Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act and could not be killed.
The Animal Welfare Board of India plans to move the court if the scheme is implemented. A.G. Babu, member of the board, said that the scheme challenged the law of the land. Little cormorants came under Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act and could not be killed.
P.O. Nameer, State coordinator of Asian Waterfowl Census, said the scheme could not be implemented since it was against the law. Besides, his organisation had been regularly taking the census of water birds in the state for the past 10 years. According to its data, the little cormorant population in the state had never crossed 10,000 i.e. one-tenth of what is claimed in the report. In fact, in the whole of Asia, the population was nearly 2.8 lakh, he said.