Normally my relationship with and reaction to the kingdom of birds is a happy one, in fact most of the time it is idyllic. Not this afternoon. I witnessed this in Khao Yoi, Phetchaburi at a place called ซอยแก่นสุข - I am horrified that this might mean something like Foundation of Happiness Lane. I'll let the pictures tell their grim story.
Basically it is an illegal mist net. When scientists use these nets to trap birds they operate to strict rules about the length of time a bird is allowed to be left to minimise stress, discomfort and prevent predation.In real terms the birds are in these nets for minutes. This is what happens when I go ringing at Laem Pak Bia. Even with such controls and supervision birds like Koels are known to attack the entrapped birds. The above birds have been left to the elements and as you can see some, if not all, are dead. They have died slow, painful deaths. The lucky ones might have been killed by a predator. Maybe tonight the owls will have a feast.
I contacted Phil Round and he put me in touch with Wildlife and I reported it officially. I don't know what interest they will take because they are trying to protect tigers, elephants and leopards, the jewels in Thailand's biodoversity. I hope however they take an interest in the little guys. If nothing else I hope someone goes along and confiscates the net and reads the riot act. If the net is on ground near a temple, given the monstrously inappropriate name of the soi, which might suggest it leads to a temple, then I hope the monks will be advised and bring pressure to bear.
In short this is cruelty and it has to be stopped.
I reckon the farmers believe this action will deter birds that are seem as predators to their rice crop. This is patently absurd: as they harvest the crop there are 300 - 400 egrets on the ground uninterested in the fate of their fellow birds trapped in the mist net. I am not aware that birds in general present a significant threat to rice ; in fact I suspect in my uneducated way that birds and rice fields need each other more than this savagery would suggest. For instance the Openbill is tolerated here because it preys on an introduced mollusc that is a real threat to the rice crop yield.
I feel really angry about this grim spectacle. I decided not to get involved with the farmers because I really don't know what my intervention might trigger in terms of my own personal safety. Plus I had Ben with me, aged 22 months. I was actually a little scared about taking photographs because I thought my presence might attract interest. So I took the photographs quickly and legged it and reported it to the proper authorities this evening. I am not sure what the outcome will be but they know what is happening and where. I would like to add for the record that I will be happy to support any enforcement action which the authorities take.
As an update I believe the matter has now been reported to the police at Khao Yai and I hope they have done something to stop this cruelty.