Bhubaneswar: Security has been tightened in and around Odisha`s Chilika Lake to stop poaching of migratory birds arriving here from Siberia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Himalayas, an official said Wednesday.
The state`s wildlife department has set up more than six camps in villages near the lake to protect the birds.
A total of 25 camps would be set up this month, assistant forest conservator Chandramani Behera told.
At least two teams of wildlife officials have been told to intensify patrolling on the lake, he said.
Officials have also launched awareness campaigns in villages around the lake on bird conservation, Behera said.
He said the department would take the help of NGos, bird lovers and activists to hold awareness meetings in all villages in the region.
The 1,000 sq km lake, about 100 km from here, is spread over the districts of Puri, Khordha and Ganjam along the eastern coast and is home to some of the largest congregations of migratory birds in the country.
Every year, about a million migratory birds come to the lake in October and return in March.
An estimated 165 species of birds are found in the lake during winters. Of these, 93 species are migratory and 72 residential.
Despite security measures, poaching -- the single biggest threat to the migratory birds here -- continues to remain a headache for wildlife officials.
Behera said during last winter, around 100 people were arrested from different areas of the lake for hunting birds.
While some habitual offenders have left poaching in recent years after awareness campaigns, the hunting of birds has not stopped although the number of poaching cases has come down, he said.
Poachers kill the migratory birds for their meat which are in high demand in eateries in Bhubaneswar, Puri, Khurda, Balugaon and Berhampur.
About 8.83 lakh migratory waterfowl visited the lake last winter.
Wildlife officials are hopeful that a similar number will arrive this winter too.
Hundreds of migratory birds have already arrived at the lake in the past few days.