Sunday, May 4, 2014

Problem with poachers

With the sun's heat accelerating the rate of evaporation in the lake, the water level has fallen sharply and there are no more than four or five pools of water left. We have been consoling ourselves with the thought that this is still far, far better than this time last year when we had literally a few buckets of water in the entire lake. Fish had died in scores then and the lake bed was hard and with cracks and crevices. Encouraged by the monsoon filling the lake somewhat, in September we'd released 3000 fingerlings and the birds returned once again. 

The fish has grown in these six months attracting new species of birds such as the Great Egret, Asian Openbill Stork, Painted Stork, Darter, Garganey Ducks among many others. 

Garganeys, Dec 2013
Painted Stork and Grey Heron, April 2014

Deepa Mohan's Youtube video on the Asian Openbill Stork

Unfortunately though, the fish also attracts poachers to the lake. Every time the trespassers come close, the birds flee.

Poachers, 3-May-2014
Fishing, 4-May-2014
With a sack of fish, 4-May-2014

The sheer brutality of these men and boys is appalling to say the least. Armed with sticks, they beat the fish in the shallow water. In the deeper water others use fishing nets or even cloth to catch the fish. When ticked off by our gardeners, they threaten to break the arms and legs of our men. We trustees have taken to chasing the men away and collecting the sticks and nets they leave behind in the hope that they may not return. We are wrong and they do return to fish, day and night. Only a few birds are now left at the lake. 

Trespassers, poachers
Teaching the young to flout the law
The birds return when the men leave

We are guarding the lake and the fish as best as we can while we wait for the monsoon to begin, fill the lake and bring the birds back. We fervently hope the rain will also keep the poachers away.


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