The two separate cases of killing and torture of birds in Uttarakhand and Tamil Nadu respectively have shocked both wildlife experts and animal welfare activists.
In Uttarakhand, 250 egret chicks were killed when school authorities brought down an old tree with their nests. And in Tamil Nadu, more than 7,000 emus starved in Perundurai-based Susi Emu Farms when suppliers stopped providing them food.
Following these tragic events, demands have surfaced for enforcement of Preservation of Tree Act (Urban) (Rural) to prevent the random felling of large old trees that are breeding and nesting sites of birds. Wildlife experts and animal welfare activists have also called for the enactment of Animal Welfare Legislation Amendment Bill 2011, pending in the Environment Ministry.
According to wildlife expert Kishore Rithe and member of Standing Committee, National Board for Wildlife, the incident involving the killing of egret chicks by felling an old tree in a school violates both Wildlife Protection Act and the Preservation of Tree Act (Urban) (Rural). The school authorities should have sought permission from the concerned Government agency, he said.
The felling of large trees is especially worrisome because June to August is breeding season for storks, egrets, herons etc in north India. During this period such birds flock for nesting. In south India, the breeding period for these birds is between November and March.
“Certain trees or locations specifically selected by these birds for specific reasons because of which they come there again and again,” pointed out ornithologist Dr Asad Rahmani who is also director of Bombay Natural History Society.
“It could have been a lesson on conservation by the school to its students,” said Rahmani. He added that the school authorities should have at least certainly waited for the season to be over instead of felling the tree so arbitrarily. They should have put some nets for the dropping chicks, instead of just letting them fall from the tree and die, he said.
Anjali Sharma, executive committee member, Animal Welfare Board of India and who is also an animal welfare activist and lawyer, regretted that there are not enough regulations for animal welfare. Also, the penalties attached to the existing regulations are meagre. Emu farms in Tamil Nadu, Haryana among others attract huge investments as almost every part of their body has high commercial value and they are prolific breeders.
“But the manner in which they were left to starve by the owners reaching the point that the birds were attacking each other for food is horrendous,” she said.
It calls for immediate strengthening of legal provisions in animal protection. The Animal Welfare Act 1960 is archaic and the new animal welfare bill is pending in the Environment Ministry since the past one year, she added.
“Such an act is violation of Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act and the licence owners should be booked under this law,” pointed out Rithe.
Src: Daily Pioneer