PASIGHAT- ( By Maksam Tayeng )- By the onset of winter, the winter migratory birds including Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea), Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo), Common Merganser (Goosander), Indian Skimmer, White winged Wood duck and many other colourful water birds have started flocking in the water bodies of the D. Ering Wildlife sanctuary since second week of this November, attracting special attention of the wildlife officials and the nature lover as well.
Though wildlife officials used to witness arrival of avian visitors to the area during December, January or early February each year, the winged guests have arrived early this year. Several flocks of birds, most of which are migratory from Siberia and Mongolia, were seen in the various water bodies of the Sanctuary from the second week of November 2022.
Apart from migratory birds, a large number of grassland-dependent bird species such as Swamp Francolin (Francolinus gularis), Jerdon’s Babbler (Chryssoma altirostre), Swamp Prinia and Black-breasted Parrotbill (Paradoxornis flavirostris) are also found in the sanctuary’s grassland. As per record, over 150 bird species have been reported, including endangered birds like the Bengal Florican (Houbaropsis bengalensis) (the most recent estimate is of 60-70 pairs as per BNHS).
The D. Ering Memorial Wildlife Sanctuary is located near Pasighat the headquarters of the East Siang District and covers an area of 190 km² (approximately) and it lies between the (27°56’16’’N, 95°26’45’’E) and sandwiched between the Siang and Sibya Rivers in East Siang District. The sanctuary lies in the low-altitude (100 to 150 m.) floodplains on the border of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.
The sanctuary has extensive floodplain grasslands (about 80%). Saccharum spontaneum, S. arundinaceum and Neyraudia reynaudina are the main grass species, and sedges such as Cyperus sp. also occur. Other habitat types include riverine forests, with tree species such as Terminalia myriocarpa, Bombax ceiba and Dillenia indica.
The sanctuary is known for its rich bio-diversity and is regaining its past glory in the last 4 years. Thanks to the intensified round the clock patrolling and intensive action against the hunters/poachers including timber mafias by the present sanctuary authority though with limited staffs most of which are casual/contingency who are serving here from the last 30 years besides other recently recruited ones.
Tasang Taga, Divisional Forest Officer, who showed a strong and committed effort to secure the sanctuary from hunting and other illegal activities to revive the sanctuary in real sense, today proudly says that, more than 20 Guns were seized and around 30 hunters/poachers were arrested so far within his tenure of around 4 years in the sanctuary.
In the process of protecting the sanctuary in true sense some serious actions were needed despite public opposition and reaction (mostly who sympathizes with the hunters and supports hunting), but we did it even by banning fishing activities of public and fishermen engaged by local fish mahaldars deep inside the sanctuary. As many people were found laying Cable traps and even doing hunting in the pretext of fishing in the Sanctuary Rivers in the past, informed Taga.
“Apart from intensified patrolling, our field staffs and officials including active Eco-Development Committee members are constantly mobilizing the people of the fringe areas to protect flora and fauna of this riverine island sanctuary, which is necessary for maintaining ecology of the region for larger human interest”, added Taga.