Speaking up for the sparrows

The conference brought in various perspectives on the bird and what best can be done to bring them back.

BCIL ZED Foundation conducted an International Sparrow Conference on 20 March, to raise awareness about the fall in the House Sparrow population in Bengaluru. 20 March is celebrated as the International sparrow day. As part of the conference there was a panel discussion on the birds, held at the Xavier Hall of St. Joseph’s College, Lalbagh Road.

Poster displayed outside St.Joseph’s College. Photo: Deepa Mohan

The first to speak was Dr. Abraham Verghese, of the Indian Institute for Research, who touched on how, several decades ago, places like Rajaji Nagar were just open land helping sparrow population. He added that several factors, like loss of habitat, food material, and roosting/nesting spaces contributed to the decline in the numbers of the sparrows. He also mentioned the importance of work done by stalwart birdwatchers like Dr.Joseph George, Dr M B Krishna and Dr S Subrahmanya.

Surekha Aithabathula, from Doordarshan, Hyderabad, talked about reporting on wildlife as a necessary alternative to reporting only on politics, and said that even here, the media had the power to distort reports and facts. She stressed the importance of responsible reporting when reporting any news on birds or wildlife. She mentioned that The Independent, a London newspaper, offered a prize of £5,000 in 1998 for a proper scientific explanation of the house sparrow’s widespread disappearance from many of our towns and cities. This prize still remains unclaimed.

Karthik K, who works for Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), talked of the fact that no scientific data has yet been compiled on the efforts to conserve the sparrow, or the results of such efforts. He said that it was not enough to distribute sparrow nests; it was necessary to build up a monitoring system for these birds.

Murali H R, of the Namma Cycle Foundation, said that no large public gardens had been created in the past several decades in Bangalore. He said that fewer glass façadedbuildings should be built, as these result in birds hitting themselves fatally against the glass. They also have no niches for the sparrows to nest, and thus contribute to the decline of the sparrows. He also added that perhaps, four more gardens like Lalbagh should be commissioned.

T B Dinesh, of the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Servelots, spoke of the "birds and bees" and mentioned how lack of greenery led to lack of bees for pollination and hence to lack of food for birds. He mentioned the great extermination of sparrows in China. This was the campaign against the ‘Four Pests’, initiated in 1958 as a hygiene campaign by Mao Tzedong, who identified the need to exterminate mosquitoes, flies, rats, and sparrows. Sparrows were included on the list because they ate grains, robbing the people of the fruits of their labour. This resulted in the near-extinction of the birds in China. He also mentioned the cultural underpinnings of this social bird, in our stories and songs.

The Deputy Mayor, S Harish, who was also present, said that the Government would certainly support all measures to conserve the sparrow population and augment it.

I was also part of this panel discussion as an amateur birdwatcher. I spoke for the laypersons, who may not be ornithologists, but can do their bit for the sparrow population by both encouraging nesting and feeding, and documenting the presence of the birds.

Dr Chakravarthy, HoD, Department of Etymology, Gandhi Kisan Vikas Kendra (GKVK) , moderated the discussion.

Several members of the audience also contributed with their inputs. There were suggestions for field trips, even a plea to leave the birds alone to make a resurgence by themselves. Hoping that the points raised in the discussion would be translated into action, the audience and the panelists then dispersed.

Comments:

  1. TringFinance says:

    Best Solution is to put some seeds daily in balcony like rice seeds, urad dal, & others with water in a small cup or open plastic container. Atleast one of their basic need is fulfilled.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Similar Story

Smothered by smog: Struggle of vegetable vendors in Delhi’s Keshopur Mandi

Delhi's air pollution affects every resident, but for the urban poor, like vegetable vendors of Keshopur Mandi, it is much worse.

Halfway through our interview, vegetable vendor Rekha asked me point blank, “Isse kya hoga,” and at that moment, I could not think of an answer. She was right and had every reason to be hopeless. Much has been written about air pollution and much energy has been spent on expert committees and political debates and yet nothing has changed.  “Hum toh garib log hai, hum kisko jakar bole, hamari sunvai nahin hoti” (We are poor people, to whom do we go, nobody listens to us),” says Rekha Devi, who sells vegetables in the Keshopur Mandi. Keshopur is a large retail…

Similar Story

Study shows TNPCB ill-equipped to monitor the environmental impact of pollution

The scientific team of TNPCB is working at half its strength, affecting the Board's ability to carry out inspections in Chennai and other parts of the State.

The Central Pollution Control Board and the State Pollution Control Boards are the primary custodians for preventing and controlling all forms of pollution in our country. Despite their significant role in environmental protection, the public is mostly unaware of the functions of these regulatory bodies, due to insufficient research. Therefore, we at Citizen consumer & civic Action Group (CAG) have attempted to understand the functions of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), through a study titled ‘The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board in Retrospect: An Examination of Selected Parameters from 2017 to 2022.’ Read more: Fisherfolk lament as environmental…