Mumbai: Trade in wildlife parts and the resultant poaching continues to be a major threat to the survival of several species of fauna in India and around the world, an NGO working for the conservation of nature said.
"The ubiquitous egrets are one of the species targeted by poachers, whose feathers are used as ornamental decorations on several social and festive occasions," Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) said.
Ornithologists at BNHS pointed out an advertisement and a news item in Mumbai newspapers on the use of egret feathers on social and festive occasions.
"The ornamental plumes of egrets are known in the wildlife trade as aigrettes or ospreys.
These are often used as decorative materials during social and festive occasions. March and September are breeding seasons for egrets. That is when they grow the breeding plumage, which is in demand," BNHS spokesperson Atul Sathe said here today.
Gulgulawa and Kurmi-Baheliya communities from eastern India poach egrets and sell their feathers to middlemen and retailers, who make the maximum profit, Sathe said.
Flying feathers or primaries of egrets are often used for decorating the Dhaki (drum) by the traditional drummers on festive occasions, whereas aigrettes are used as ornamentation on headgear during social events such as weddings.
The newspaper advertisement talks about an "exclusive wedding collection", where the bridegroom sports egret feathers on his headgear, he said.
"All egret species found in India are protected under the Schedule-IV of Wildlife (Protection) Act and killing them is a punishable offence," he said.
The Act should be strictly implemented to ensure that birds and animals are not poached for catering to the demand for wildlife products, he said.