Shirui range in Ukhrul district has been a home to many migratory birds. These birds migrate from places such as Siberia and China. But the visit of, Grey-sided thrush (Turdus feae) is slowly dwindling from the Shirui Kashong range each passing winter.
The birds, locally known as ‘Shiri’ (grey-sided thrush) nestled and feeds on red berry fruits locally known as ‘Shirungthei’ (Magnolia kobus) found in the Shirui Kashong range. The migratory birds usually visit Shirui in the month of November and stay till January.
During the winter months, they are found in evergreen forest at altitudes ranging between 1,500 to 2,600 metres. After the breeding season in September, the grey-sided thrush begins its lengthy migration southwards. These birds nestle at Shirui Kashong range from November to January.
It is during this time, the locals catch thousands of Shiri by using local-made trap known as ‘nei’. However, this winter, there is very less catch because the number of Shiri passing through the area is very, less informed a village elder. He opined that large scale felling of fruit- bearing trees Shirungthei in the Shirui range could be one of the reasons for dwindling numbers of this winged friend visiting this season.
This migratory bird forages on insects and nectar from the flowers and red berries. Villagers reported that this year, the Shirungthei trees bear less berries as compared to previous year.
Trapping of Shiri for food and for selling in the market have also posed a great threat to these migratory birds. It is reported that a bird is being sold at Rs 100 per piece. Shiri is one of the favorite delicacies for many people in and around the area.
As the birds number dwindles, may be, it is time to start looking for measures to conserve them instead of seeing them as part of our platter, pointed out a local. The onus of conserving should not be solely on the people living in and around Shirui Kashong range, he added.
“The forest and wildlife department can provide idea and technical know-how, funds where necessary and any other assistance. Conservation and protection of Shiri can only be successful when the locals are involved along with the cooperation of the government agencies,” he said.
By Tennoson Pheiray | UKHRUL