Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Myths prove deadly for exotic species

33 Lesser Flamingos were killed for their meat in Little Rann of Kutch
Carcasses of two Chinkara cubs were found near Bitta village in Abdasa tehsil of Vadodara district on last Christmas eve 11 migratory cranes were found dead in Vathali village of Junagadh district

Is it the lure of tasting the forbidden that is leading to this recent spate of killings involving protected species of birds and animals? Wildlife activists and forest officials believe that several myths associated with the meat of certain birds and animals are also the reason why the species are being targeted.

There is no scientific basis for the claims of benefits associated with the meat, said HS Singh additional principal chief conservator of forest."Many believe that migratory cranes are very hot and hence consuming their meat will help keep the body warm during winter. So people, particularly fishermen, take to killing them in the hope that it will help them ward of the chill," said Dinesh Goswami, a wildlife activist in Kodinar. He also said that another myth associated with these birds is that they help in increasing sexual prowess of a person when eaten.

"There is no data or research to back such wild claims. A lot of time we try to spread awareness about the foolish claims associated with such birds and animals," said Goswami. A chief conservator of forest in Junagadh were the flamingos were found killed said there is no such myth that surrounds the flamingo.

"In fact its meat stinks. So it is more likely that those who killed the birds were trying to pass it off as chicken by mixing it with the latter. We are looking into that possibility," he said.

He, however, said that there is a belief that the meat of the Great Indian Bustard can act as an aphrodisiac. "But it is a protected species and we haven't come across any case of the bird being killed for meat," said the officer. Sandeep Kumar, deputy conservator of forest in Sasan Gir said even he has heard of such stories.

"Many also believe that pigeon meat has certain benefits. But these are just tall claims. There is no research to back any such claim. Sexual prowess is also associated with mighty animals like rhinoceros and tigers," said Kumar.

He said there is no such myth regarding lions, which is why poachers try to pass on the bones of the animal as those belonging to the tiger. It should be noted that tiger bones are particularly in demand to make Chinese medicines as they are believed to improve libido.

Another forest official said he too has come across several such stories. "There is a myth that crocodile meat improves fertility," said the officer.


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