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Jatinga , a village on a ridge, is located in Dima Hasao district (DHD), Assam State in India. It is 330 km south of Guwahati. It is most famous for the phenomenon of birds committing suicide . Although the birds do not commit suicide and are actually killed, the phenomenon of suicide has spread far and wide among common people.[1] The village is inhabited by about 2,500 Jaintia tribal people and few Dimasa people.


Bird deaths

At the end of monsoon months especially on moonless and foggy dark nights between 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., birds are disturbed by the locals and they are attracted to lights. These dazed birds are captured using bamboo poles by the locals.[2] The local tribals first took this natural phenomenon to be spirits flying from the sky to terrorize them. This phenomenon is not confined to a single species, with Tiger Bittern, Black Bittern, Little Egret, Pond Heron, Indian Pitta and Kingfishers all being affected.[3]

Famous naturalist late E. P. Gee brought this phenomenon at a global level 1960s. He drove to Jatinga with famed ornithologist late Salim Ali.[4] The cause of it is likely to be disorientation at high altitudes and high speed winds due to the widespread fog characteristic at the time. The zoological survey of India sent Dr Sudhir Sengupta to unravel this mystery. Dr Sengupta is of the opinion that weather conditions make changes in the magnetic qualities of the underground water in this area. These changes disturb the physiological rhythm of the local birds and they start behaving abnormally towards the sources of light. However, Dr Sengupta could not justify his opinions. The most recent description of the phenomenon and its comparison with similar incidents elsewhere in Malaysia, Philippines and Mizoram is found in the book The Birds of Assam by Assam's best known ornithologist Dr Anwaruddin Choudhury. He concluded that the birds, mostly juveniles and local migrants, are disturbed by high velocity winds at their roost. When the disturbed birds fly towards lights as refuge they are hit with bamboo poles and killed or injured.[5]


According to The Statesman, the birds are attracted to the villagers' torches and then killed upon landing.[6] Conservation groups and wildlife officials in India have taken steps to prevent wanton killing of birds across India, creating awareness in the illiterate villagers. Since then, the amount of birds killed have decreased by about 40 percent.

See also


Source: Wikipedia | The above article is available under the GNU FDL. | Edit this article

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