Mindless Mass Shootings of Birds in the Pre-independent India
Koeladeo refers to another name of lord Shiva. Koeladeo National Park is on the world heritage list of UNESCO. It is located in the State of Rajasthan of India. It is an important wintering ground of Palaearctic migratory waterfowl and is renowned for its large congregation of non-migratory resident breeding birds. Due to its strategic locations migratory water birds congregate here from different part of the world. Some 375 bird species and a diverse array of other life forms have been recorded in this mosaic of grasslands, woodlands, woodland swamps and wetlands of just 2,873 hectare.
It owes its existence due to efforts of Dr.Salim Ali and first prime minister of India. It would have been reclaimed otherwise long back. It was a major duck shooting area during the time of kingdoms and British in India. Parties were arranged for pleasure killing the innocent birds regularly by Jaat Royalty even
well after the independence.
While hunting has ceased and the area declared a national park in 1982, its continued existence is dependent on a regulated water supply from a reservoir outside the park boundary. The park’s well-designed system of dykes and sluices provides areas of varying water depths.
Due to its strategic location in the middle of Central Asian migratory flyway and presence of water, large congregations of
ducks, geese, coots, pelicans and waders arrive in the winter. The park was the only known wintering site of the central population of the critically endangered Siberian Crane, and also serves as a wintering area for other globally threatened species such as the Greater Spotted Eagle and Imperial Eagle. During the breeding season the most spectacular heronry in the region is formed by 15 species of herons, ibis, cormorants, spoonbills and storks, where in a well-flooded year over 20,000 birds nest.
The infamous shooting of the birds has been described by Dr.Ali. In one such shoot, Dr Ali recounts the exploits the then viceroy, Lord Marquess VAJH Linlithgow. He fired fired 1,900 rounds of .12 bore ammunition on November 12, 1938, although despite a bruished shoulder and ego had not much to show.
The heartless shoots were so gargantuan that there there are several records of 2,000-3,000 birds being killed in a single day, and three records even of over 4,000. The all-time record of 4,273 ducks and geese to 38 guns was made in November 1938, with Lord Linlithgow as the presiding slayer.