Unfounded beliefs kill scores of egrets in Assam, authorities initiate action


Assam’s Environment and Forest Department on Saturday filed FIR against an Executive Member of a Municipal Board for his action leading to the killing of scores of egrets on the unproven belief that the birds spread coronavirus in Udalguri district.

An official said that following the directives from Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Environment and Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya asked Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife), Amit Sahai to probe into the incident and submit a report immediately.

Udalguri district’s Divisional Forest Officer of Dhansiri Forest Division, N.K. Bordoloi investigated into the incident and found that Executive Member, Tangla Municipal Board, Shantanu Das, had served notices on June 8 to five residents to clear the bamboo groves nesting the egrets and their fledglings as the ‘droppings of birds were ‘creating unhygienic environment which may increase the risk of Covid-19 infection in the area’.

Scores of birds were killed when the bamboo grove was hewn by municipal workers.

The Forest authorities have filed the FIR against Das for his action at the Tangla Police Station in northern Assam.

“Also a case will be filed against Das under Section 55 of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 in the Court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Udalguri,” a statement said.

Divisional Forest Officer, Bordoloi informed that 88 egret fledglings (chicks) have been rescued with the help of the locals and vets and sent them to the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation at the world famous Kaziranga National Park.

Local people said that over 300 fledglings and nestlings died. The action of the Tangla Municipal Board riled wildlife activists, NGOs and citizens alike and they demanded exemplary punishments to the accused.

According to the wildlife officials the egrets are listed under Schedule IV of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

The local forest authorities are planning to hold awareness campaigns involving leading citizens, NGOs and government officials on the need to protect the precious and endangered wildlife, the statement said.