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| Last Updated:08/12/2021

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Bird hunting linked to Willong stink bean infestation

 Source: Chronicle News Service

Imphal, September 19 2021: With semi-looper infesting the stink beans and completely destroying the trees, villagers in Willong Khimou of Senapati district are worried today as their hard work has come to nought and their main source of income slipping away through their fingers.

It is said that the massive infestation on the stink beans might have been escalated due to extensive hunting/poaching of birds during the lockdown period imposed for containing Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking to The People's Chronicle, Willong Khunou pastor Molung informed that almost all the villagers, who were at different parts of the state and country, returned to the village following the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown imposed for containing the pandemic.

During the lockdown period, villagers particularly youth extensively poached and hunted birds using slingshots and air guns, thereby decreasing the number of birds and disrupting ecological balance.

The disruption to the ecological balance may be the reason for the massive infestation of semi-looper on the stink bean trees.

Informing that a family usually earns around Rs 2-3 lakh from harvesting the stink beans, Molung said that almost every family in the village plants stink bean trees.

However, the villagers are worried that they might be deprived of their main source of income next year as most of the stink beans have dried up because of the infestation, he said, while recalling that similar infestation occurred last year too, though on a small scale and only a few plants were affected.

The village pastor further recounted that in the past birds like flocks of crows and hornbills used to migrate to the village in addition to animals like fox and wild boar found abundantly.

Unfortunately, the migratory birds are nowhere to be seen these days because of the ecological imbalance, he said.

In a bid to counter the infestation, a village task force has been formed and killing of birds prohibited.

Moreover, youth and children are utilised for collecting and killing the insects, he stated.

"Instead of just relying on chemicals to protect the plants, it wouldbe more beneficial if awareness were given to the villagers for conserving ecological balance," he stressed, while adding that chemicals alone could not save the dying stink bean trees.

He also appealed to authorities concerned for imparting awareness among the people on the importance of maintaining ecological balance.

Village chief Rahingba said that the village has a population of about 506 people.

The village does not produce other crops in abundance other than the stink beans.

Unfortunately, the stink beans were all infested by insects this year.

Following the infestation, officials of horticulture department and KVK visited the village and provided chemicals to save the plants.

The chemicals were applied on some infested plants using drones and sprayers provided by the government.

However, the sprayers supplied by the department could not cover the tree top, he lamented.

"We are hapless and do not know what the future holds for us as almost all the stink bean plants have been infested by the insect," he said, while urging the authorities concerned to extend all possible help as all their hope for survival has been shattered.