Bird flu scare grips Tml
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, November 02: The recovery of a dead Red-Legged Falcon, one of the species of migratory birds which flock to Manipur from Europe and China, at Barak in Tamenglong district has sparked off fresh panic over the possible spread of the deadly avian influenza in the State.

The dead bird found during a trip made to Banchemphai near Barak river in Tamenglong district on November 1 in connection with the launch of campaign to spread awareness on Bird flu among the people of the area. Deputy Commissioner of Tamenglong T Panmei and SP Chonggup led the team.

It is informed that around 5 lakhs Red-Legged Falcons have already arrived at Barak river this year.

The birds are nesting on the trees and bamboos grown near the river bank.

An avid bird watcher and Registrar of Manipur University RK Ranjan informed that Red-legged Falcon, which is known as Akhuaipuina in Zeliangrong dialect come from Europe and Manchuria of China.

The team led by the DC could not establish the cause of the death of the bird as most part of the body had decomposed.

Concerned over the possible outbreak of Bird flu among the people of the area, the district administrator assured that a team from the Forest Division along with a team of doctors would be sent to study the situation and to take up all the required preventive measures. Later interacting with the villagers of Banchemphai, Panmei advised them not to catch or kill the migratory birds and cautioned them against spread of bird flu. It is said that around 1 lakh of Red Legged Falcon were killed by the villagers last year.

These birds usually fly in groups in and around the area and the villagers spend the night at the jungle and shoot them with catapults or guns.

Around 100 birds are either killed or ensnared on an average a day and sold in the market at the rate of Rs 15 per bird.

The meat of the fowl is said to be considered a delicacy by the people and killing or catching them is a source of income for quite a large number of villagers of Tamenglong.

Chimlan Marip, a villager who is in this business, said that as it difficult to catch from the river during winter, they usually go out to catch these birds and fetch lot of income.

While informing that the migratory birds started arriving since October, he informed that bird catchers could ensnare 100 birds on an average a day.

However, he said that he has not catch or kill any so far.

Some of the people in his village as well as those in the neighbouring villages, also keep the Red-Legged Falcons as pets for the children, he informed.