Bihar state to replicate Karnataka Government Order in efforts to conserve wildlife and avians

The workshop held in Patna aimed to prepare a unified program through which transborder cooperation could be enhanced to conserve birds.

ByBellie Thomas

Published Feb 11, 2024 | 11:00 AMUpdatedFeb 11, 2024 | 11:00 AM

Bird conservation bihar karnataka

The Bihar state government’s Forest Department is looking into replicating a Karnataka Government Order (GO).

The Karnataka GO that the Bihar government is looking to replicate empowers enforcement agencies like police and the customs along with the Forest Department officials to take penal action against offenders who indulge in wildlife crimes, especially the ones who are into hunting and killing wildlife.

Bihar’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) and Wildlife PK Gupta, IFS, informed South First that his office is actively examining how to frame section – 55 (b) of a Karnataka government order in the context of Bihar.

International Bird Workshop

PCCF PK Gupta hosted a three-day International Bird Workshop in Patna, that started on 5 February and concluded on 7 February.

Wildlife enthusiasts, environmentalists, and bird watchers from across the country, as well as delegates from National and State-level organizations, attended the workshop.

Additionally, international participants from South Asian countries such as Singapore, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Kazakhstan, Bangladesh, and Bhutan were present.

The workshop primarily addressed the illegal hunting of migratory and other bird species. It also highlighted various local-level initiatives undertaken by different countries for the conservation of these birds.

Also Read: Three new Karnataka wetlands added to Ramsar sites

What is Section 55(b)? 

A government notification dated 26 August, 2010 reads — under Section 55 (b) — All forest officers of and above the forester within their territorial/wildlife jurisdictions, all police officers of and above the rank of sub-inspector of police, all revenue officers of and above the rank of tahsildar, and all officers of the customs department of the rank of assistant commissioner and above within their jurisdictions can exercise their authority upon incidences in violation with the Wildlife (Protection) Act.

Speaking about the idea of replicating Karnataka’s GO, PK Gupta told South First, “A delegate from Karnataka provided valuable insights into how the state government empowered enforcement agencies to combat illegal hunting, granting them authority for apprehension and action.”

“I’ve obtained a copy and my office is currently reviewing it. We’ll assess how it can be adapted to the Bihar context and pursue its implementation.” PCCF added.

Replicated by other states

According to a Forest Department official in Karnataka, in 1972, when the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act came into existence, the police arm was also included as an enforcement agency to take up cases along with the Forest Department in Karnataka.

In 2010 through a Government Order, the customs also was added to the list in the state.

The forest official further spoke about the other states which adopted the GO, “The GO brought in the 1990s, by the then PCCF—head of the forest force BK Singh was replicated by Assam and Punjab.”

On condition of anonymity, the official added, “However, many states like Tamil Nadu even at present are objecting to this section-55 (b) for reasons best known to them. Several states in the country are still dealing with conservation and tackling wildlife crimes only with certain state-recognized agencies and their dedicated Forest Department.”

These options of engaging different enforcement agencies to coordinate with each other and work towards the conservation of wildlife and avians were the topics that were discussed at the International Bird Workshop in Patna.

Also Read: Bird talk: A Bengaluru duo’s tryst with our feathered friends

Conservation of birds

International Bird Worshop in Patna, Bihar

International Bird Workshop in Patna, Bihar.

The workshop aimed to prepare a unified program through which the transborder cooperation could be enhanced, and at the same time a boost would be given to the local level to conserve birds and discourage illegal hunting and trade of birds.

“During this workshop around 52 delegates presented their papers and made different talks about the works they had adopted in their area pertaining to conservation of the birds. The enforcement agent delegates present demonstrated how they can coordinate in a better manner to conserve and protect these migratory birds,” Gupta told South First.

Speaking more along the lines of the conservation of birds, Gupta said, “There are nine flyways in the world through which the birds migrate and the entire Indian subcontinent including Sri Lanka comes under the Central Asian flyway.”

“There are 30 countries that fall under the Central Asian flyway and out of those—nine countries participated in the workshop. This workshop was mainly focused on the South Asian region,” he added.

Conservation in South India

Explaining further with a South Indian perspective, the IFS officer said that the migratory birds that go down south migrating through the Central Asian flyway after crossing the Himalayas are in dire need of relaxation.

First, they get down at the Northern area to roost, rest and relax to gain energy and are ready to proceed with their journey further down southern wetlands to South India and Sri Lanka.

The southern wetlands are the ultimate destination for these birds when they become victims of netting, hunting and killing as their meat is consumed.

These are the obstacles that these migratory birds face in the Southern Indian peninsula. There are several agencies and individual Wildlife conservation groups recognized by the State government themselves which work in tandem with the State agencies for bird conservation, but that was not enough, he said.

Also Read: Tamil Nadu forest team executes daring rescue of gaur trapped in 50-foot well

Central Asian flyway

Gupta then went on to explain about the birds that take the Central Asian flyway.

The officer lists some of the migratory species: Bar-Headed goose, Red-Crested pochard, Greylag goose and Ruddy Shelduck.

Gupta further elaborated on the path these birds take, “These are the ones that take the Central Asian flyway during the migrating season October to March and cross the Himalayas in one flying at a height of 19,000 feet.”

He adds: “After landing in the Northern states for some rest, rejuvenation, refuelling and after gaining strength they take off to their destination towards the Southern wetlands in the South Indian States and Sri Lanka.”

Gupta explains about the risk factors, “This is where they become vulnerable victims of netting, hunting and killing for meat. While crossing the Himalayas, they don’t stop because they consider the Himalayas dangerous for them and they have to cross it in one go while coming and going.”

“They drop down in the Northern area for resting and will re-fuel themselves and continue with their journey back. The migrating season happens to be during October-March when the rate of netting and hunting of these birds happens,” he adds.

“The enforcement agencies will have to be more cautious and vigilant during this season to work on the conservation of these avian species,” Gupta explained.

Patna declaration

At the end of the workshop, through all these conversations and interactions with the delegates, the state of Bihar came up with the “Patna Declaration” with a focus on the South Asian region.

The declaration included incorporating what action needs to be taken at the flyway level, regional level, country level, and local level to prevent illegal hunting and poaching and also to conserve avians.

“This workshop was unique focusing more on the illegal hunting and trade aspect which is the biggest threat for the bird species all over the globe. Birds are representatives of climate change,” Gupta reiterated.