So, what had gone wrong in Mangalajodi?
Though this ecosystem drew winged visitors from as far as Siberia, Russia, Mongolia, Central Asia, Caspian Sea, Aral Sea, Lake Baikal, and Southeast Asia, the native villagers living on its periphery did not value its significance and role in the migratory cycle.
For generations these people have lived on farming and fishing, and have been largely ignorant of concepts like environment degradation, migration, overall ecosystem balance etc. The exotic migratory bird population meant hunting and earning a premium prize for the birds.
It was regular practice to hunt birds, in his youth, and an easy earning of up to Rs. 3,000 per hunt. Incidentally the villagers also poisoned the lake plants, which when consumed by the birds would prove fatal. Despite Forest Dept and Govt crackdowns, this practice continued unabashed in the 90s.
Change of heart?
A large part of this mindset change can be attributed to the work of Nanda Kishore Bhujabal, himself a poacher, who figured out rather early in his life that the survival and thriving of these bird populations are key to the overall ecology and subsequent economy of these wetlands.