AIZAWL, Oct 11 - Aizawl-based wildlife group Association for Environmental Preservation (ASEP) has said that at least 300 birds of different species have been shot � well, not with slings or guns � but with cameras in the State.
Under the aegis of the State CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority), the ASEP today organised a one-day sava veh (hunting of birds) at Aizawl Zoological Park in which 30 local wildlife photographers participated.
ASEP president K Lalmuansanga said his organisation has been organising day-long sava veh programmes under the theme �Shoot with a camera, not with a gun� since last year. �Through this programme, we have photographically documented more than 300 birds of different species in Mizoram,� he said.
�Shooting birds with catapults has been the tradition of Mizo boys. The one-day sava veh programme aims to do away with that tradition and instil in the minds of today�s young boys the need for preserving our State�s birds, in such a way that when a boy sees a bird, he would think of a camera and not about the catapult or a stone,� he said.
�Besides, we aim to make a photographic documentation of our State�s birds so that people, especially the younger generation, can visualise the birds which they know only by names, and to promote Mizoram as a paradise of birds,� he added.
ASEP is happy that its long years of wildlife awareness campaign has started to bear positive fruits as a good number of hunters in villages have surrendered their guns and traps, and young boys their catapults, and pledged that they would never kill birds or other wild animals again.
�Unlike their fathers, today�s kids have realised the need to protect wild animals and birds. We can see that many birds have come back to Aizawl,� the ASEP president said.
�We have also seen a rise in number of wildlife photographers. We thank birders, who have spent a lot of time and money in capturing the State�s birds at their own expense,� he said. With more than 500 species of birds, Mizoram is said to be among world�s top hotspots for birds.
According to ornithologists, of more than 500 species of birds in Mizoram, four have been declared critically endangered, one endangered, five vulnerable, seven near-threatened and nine restricted.
Among the rare species of birds, Chinese Babax is found only in Mizoram within the Indian limits. Mrs Hume�s Pheasant is the State bird of Mizoram and among other worth-watching species are Blyth�s Tragopan, Khasi Hills or Dark Rumped Swift, Great Pied Hornbill and White-Winged Wood Duck.
There are past records of Great White-bellied Heron and Rufous-necked Hornbill. The status of rare green Peafowl is not known.
Environmentalists have held the jhum agriculture, logging and cultivation in the valleys, hunting and the proposed hydro-electric projects responsible for the large-scale habitat destruction.
Mizoram falls under the �Indo-Burma global biodiversity hotspot� and the �Eastern Himalaya Endemic Bird Area�.
The entire State is hilly and mountainous and is also at a higher altitude than many countries, including the Netherlands and Switzerland.