Baaj On The Verge Of Extinction
" Chidi naal mein Baaj Ladawan, tah Gobind Singh Naam dhrawa" said the tenth master Guru Gobind Singh Ji who had many titles bestowed upon him, one of the most beautiful was ‘Chittay baaja wala”, the keeper of the white falcon. The word Baaj is sanskrit in origin and mostly it is agreed that it refers to a falcon as opposed to a hawk or an osprey.
As a mark of historic tradition, the government of Punjab has failed to take any measure to uplift the population of this bird that now stands at the verge of extinction. What’s worse is that government has no official figures and no plans to save the bird that is so deeply embedded into Punjab's vibrant history.
Government yet to take remedial measures:
Confusion reigns over the population of the threatened species of Baaj (Eastern goshawk), which holds significance for its association with the 10th Sikh guru. With no census on the bird available with the Punjab Government, the bird is on the verge of extinction.
Sources in the state Wildlife Department said a notification issued by the state government in 1989 mentioned that the State Bird of Punjab is Baaj. However, this bird seems to be sliding towards extinction and the state government has “failed” to either carry out a census or raise some breeding ground for it.
Talking to TNS, state Chief Wildlife Warden Gurbaj Singh said: “There is no data available on its population with us, as it is now spotted very rarely in the state. Though I cannot say if it was given the status of a State Bird due to its association with the 10th Sikh guru, it is impossible to identify this bird as both male and female goshawks look same and there is no arrangement for its breeding.”
Karamjit Singh Jattana, a former Divisional Forest Officer (Patiala), said the Punjab Government had failed to order any study to associate Baaj with the 10th Sikh guru or initiate steps to protect it from extinction. “Instead, it accepted a Central government grant for the breeding of falcon and ignored Baaj, which is almost extinct,” he added.