Sparing no Effort to Save the Sparrow
HYDERABAD: Think out-of-the-box for solutions, we are told. That’s exactly how a group of students from Hyderabad thought and came up with a ‘box’ as the solution. Remember those early morning chirrups at your window sill that worked better than an alarm? These were tiny brown sparrows flocking wherever they found bread crumbs or grains. In 2002, the birds were included in the Red Data List released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature IUCN. Other animals in the list are tiger and leopard.
Now, while there’s a debate going on about the disappearance of sparrows. Ornithologists and scientists call the sparrows as indicators of change in the urban bio system which also indicates the health of humans. With the disappearance of sparrows many NGOs and student bodies have come forward with some solutions to save this species or at least encourage the few remaining birds to fly to urban areas for nesting and breeding. In Hyderabad a group of students has started making sparrow boxes. These boxes are tempting for the birds to fly and make nest inside these little wooden boxes. People in the city are queuing up to buy these bird boxes.
Animal Rehabilitation and Protection Fund (ARPF), an NGO at Begumpet, has sparrows project named NEST which is known as Networking of Sparrow Conservation Team. Students from Natural Resources and Governance from TATA Institute of Social Sciences were part of it. Heading the project is Mariam Khan. She shares, “We have a carpenter who makes 50 bird homes within a fortnight. We recycle old furniture. Our group of students tried breeding sparrows in a cage. But we were not successful as these birds are free and love to come back and go. Then we thought why not make them come back to open boxes as these birds make nests. That’s how the idea was born.”
This NGO is the brain child of Nihar Parulekar, an engineering student from JNTU, Hyderabad. He shares with us how the members conducted a Sparrow Run the last year on World Sparrow Day. He says, “This year we plan to make it country wide. We already have done small level activities in Indore and Vizag.”
The first year after the idea was conceptualised they had distributed 180 Sparrow Boxes to people for free in an attempt to include the common people in saving the sparrows. Now the boxes are available for `150-200. Last year we sold 300 boxes.”
In many countries, World Sparrow Day is celebrated on March 20 with a lot of activities. In Delhi the erstwhile CM Sheila Dikshit had declared the house sparrow as State Bird. As part of Save Sparrow project denizens are encouraged to provide information on citizensparrows.in. While many experts opine that because of increase in the number of rock pigeons sparrows are disappearing. This might be one of the reasons. But there are other contributary factors as well.
Says Azam Khan, birdwatcher and member of Bird Society Andhra Pradesh (BSAP), “In Charminar area some sparrows can still be sighted thanks to the alcoves in the old-style house where they make nests. Now, a lot of flats have come up and sparrows have no places to make nests. That’s another reason why sparrows are disappearing. With bird boxes coming up there’s some hope.”