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Purbasthali Waterfowls
A Conservation Initiative

THE JUNGLEES discovered the birding paradise of Purbasthali in 1988. A riverine oxbow lake and a cluster of islands comprise Purbasthali Gangetic Isle Complex. Located on the meandering course of river Bhagirathi (also known as Ganga) bordering the districts of Burdwan and Nadia in West Bengal. A magical mosaic of 101 species of birds with flock strength around 14,000 makes Purbasthali one of the largest wintering grounds for migratory birds.

Here the ducks used to fall prey to poachers' gun. The booty used to be transported to wayside eateries, far away.

THE JUNGLEES responded to this onslaught with a vigorous anti-poaching campaign. Local school students and villagers rallied behind. The media made millions aware of the issue. Years of struggle built public awareness. That stopped the poaching menace.

Ever since, the birds spread a message elsewhere - THE JUNGLEES think Globally, act locally. Let the story of Purbasthali be an inspiration. Let's preserve this fair-ground for our feathered guests, for posterity.
Photographs By Debarpan Banerjee - Purbasthali

  • An Appeal by the Waterfowls
  • Dear Human Beings,

    We, the Ruddy Shel Ducks make this monologue. For our Winter sojourn every lyear, we fly down for the lands of Nadia-Burdwan. The Cotton Teals, Garganey, Pintails, Shoveller, Common Teals, Spoon Bills &many such other ducks and waterfowls take to wings together with us for similar sojourn. Here in, our address are the sand banks and reverine isle of the river Ganga.

    Actually, we are all migratory species of birds. Our breeding grounds are beyond the borders of India at myriad destinations of Tibet, China, Russia in the North and North-East Central and West Asia, East Africa and West and Southern Europe. Yet the Gangetic riverine isle complex of Shankarpur, Medtala, Hrydaypur, Idrakpur, Nidoya, Mayapur, Shibalay and Rajar Char are like our condominiums. Here we have river fishes and land crops aplenty to feed on and sand banks like feathered beds to rest at. These all make it a cosy stay for us.

    But of late, we are facing some dangers too. Perhaps the whole of the Earth is hotting up fast. This is what we feel en-route in our long flight course from up north to south. This phenomenon drains us out of energy. Even the night sky seems steaming. The smoke spewed out of factory chimneys across the countries hang high-up in the sky. More over, the wetlands we make stopovers at, during the migration, are either found dried-up or polluted. Similar is the observation of other ducks and waterfowls joining our flock from elsewhere. Yet, we fly and try reaching here.

    But here too the demons never desert us. A few poachers here either trap us by nylon nets or shoot to kill only for our flesh. Thus, over the years, we have lost a great number of our friends and relations. This apart we do not get enough fish owing to the ganga pollution.

    These have sent a panic signal amongst us right through. These happenings have left us bewildered and depressed. Still undaunted – we address this to your conscience. For we strongly believe that, with your united resistance, we certainly stop the poaching menace and might even the river pollution.

    And only then we would live. And could still be destined for Shankarpur-Mayapur on ensuing winter like yester years.

    Save us for a better world.

    Sincerely,

    The Distressed Waterfowls of the World.

    *This is the translated version of an appeal in Bengali that was distributed in thousands, in the form of a leaflet amongst the local people of Purbasthali during the National Environmental Awareness Campaign in 1992.


    • A Thanks Giving Message by the Waterfowls

      Dear Human Beings,

      We the migratory birds are suffused with joy, you have remembered us. So we are back with our feathers ashiver in gratitude, our wings shouting "thanks friends".

      It was astounding the way one and all answered to our plea of last winter, Purbasthali, Purulia, Nabadwip, Mayapur has seen school children marching this seven Kms. from Parulia to Kasthashali.

      Street corner meetings, movie shows, processions were organized under the auspices of Kasthashali Hero Athletic club, Purbasthali Panchayat, Nabadwip Municipality, Police, Administration, State Forest Department and almost all political and social organizations of this large area have taken part spontaneously. Even the youngest saint of ISCON have extended his helping hand.

      We have heard your voice :

      "Proclaim it with Junglees, say it lout
      Save migratory birds and be proud"

      "The Junglees and we stand Guards
      For Bio-Diversity & Birds"

      We carried the good news to Himalayas, Ladakh, Tibet, Russia, North and Central Asia and Arabia, Europe.

      The beat of our wings were full of your promises :

      "Want a promise the birds migratory
      Let there be a River Sanctuary"

      The clamour has spread from Calcutta to Central Forest and Environment Ministry in Delhi, in to the head-quarters of International Waterfowl and Wetland Research Bureau in London, and to the Asian Wetland Bureau, Malaysia. It made everybody sit up. It prompted the first census of migratory birds in Shankarpur. We know now the numbers and species of our co-travellers. We know that a plan is in the offing for building a Biological Research station for migratory birds in Sankarpur. When completed, it will be the first of its kind in Eastern India. This will provide a lot of information on our migration patterns, habitat and habit. Your procession demanded:

      The Junglees Demand Green Syllabus
      In Education for Environs"

      "Waterfowls on Riverine Isle
      Will keep Eco-Tourists Mobile"

      "The Junglees Demand Green Reforms
      In Attitude to Environs"

      Such plain and simple demands can give this place its berth in the International Eco-Map and can brings about social development.

      Next winter people who would come to the riverine plains of Ganga-Jalangi would bring in extra money for the local traders, railway and for the guides. This was the first step for building the sanctuary. This is just the beginning! We want your opinion on the possibilities of building the Research station and Sanctuary. Please let us know your opinion-we promise a flight of your ideas to all the important quarters across the Globe.

      We fly back with this hope.

      With the compliments

      Migratory Waterfowls of the world.

      *This is the translated version of a thanks giving message in Bengali that was distributed in thousands, in the form of a leaflet amongst the local people of Purbasthali during the National Environmental Awareness Campaign in 1993.