Will birds stop singing?

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Ecowatch - By PHON THIKEO

IT won’t be long be­fore Laos stops hear­ing the friendly chirp­ing of birds on their win­dow sills. Or so it seems – go­ing by the way they are be­ing trapped in the most cal­lous way by bird-trap­pers.

Laos has ad­e­quate laws in place to pre­vent the hunt­ing and killing of an­i­mals or birds – a law no­body seems to fear or care about. Why is the death knell be­ing sounded for the 700-odd bird species that see this coun­try as their habi­tat – their home?

It is a fairly com­mon sight to watch bird-trap­pers lay traps for – as this writer wit­nessed to her as­ton­ish­ment – on a lazy Sun­day morn­ing in Vi­en­tiane.

Two men on a mo­tor­bike set the cru­elest trap for birds in Nong­buathong Neua vil­lage.

What is par­tic­u­larly in­fu­ri­at­ing is the ruth­less man­ner in which the birds are trapped. Bam­boo sticks smeared with glue are hooked to elec­tric­ity poles, with the sound of hum­ming birds be­ing played to con­fuse the birds.

The sound­tracks are changed de­pend­ing on the specie that is be­ing tar­geted. The birds are then sold as food.

This Sun­day was re­served to re­verse the fate of spar­rows or nokka­chok – that were meant to soar the skies, and not make it to food plat­ters.

Iron­i­cally, it wasn’t the vil­lagers that saved the spar­rows – but dogs that alerted the birds with their in­ces­sant bark­ing. They chased the men out of the area, alert­ing their hu­man com­pan­ions, but not be­fore 20 spar­rows had been trapped. For the bird catch­ers it was a small catch, but for the van­ish­ing fauna – a mas­sive loss.

The vil­lagers have been wor­ry­ing about the van­ish­ing flora and fauna in the coun­try and how un­eth­i­cal it is to trap birds and how long be­fore the bird songs will fall silent?

One of the two men who were set­ting the traps for the birds told the Vi­en­tiane Times, spar­rows are food for the lo­cals.

“Vi­en­tiane is home to sev­eral bird species. We used to trap par­rots, which are ex­pen­sive. Nokka­chok is rel­a­tively cheap,” the bird-trap­per said.

He said early morn­ing is a good time to trap be­cause flocks of nokka­chok will meet (much like hu­mans would for a cup of cof­fee) be­fore they set out for their daily rou­tines, the bird-trap­per said elic­it­ing laugh­ter from the vil­lagers.

He said more bird species are cir­cling the Vi­en­tiane sky­lines than ever be­fore be­cause some peo­ple have re­leased ex­otic species from home cages for fear of bird flu.

Re­searchers in Laos and for­eign coun­tries have recog­nised that Lao forests are homes for more than 700 bird species in the lower Mekong sub-re­gion.

Cur­rently, Laos is a home to more than 8,100 kinds of flow­ers, 500 species of fish, 166 rep­tile and am­phib­ian species and 247 mam­mal species in­clud­ing more than 100 large mam­mal species and 90 dif­fer­ent kinds of bat. — Vi­en­tiane Times/ANN

Why is the death knell be­ing sounded for the 700-odd bird species that see Laos as their habi­tat? — ANN

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