HYDERABAD: Do you know that sparrows which are nearly close to extinction in Hyderabad are still aplenty in rural areas? In an interview with The New Indian Express, Chairman of Andhra Pradesh State Biodiversity Board Dr R Hampaiah gives a glimpse of the present shape of the biodiversity in the State.
Q. Let us start with sparrows. Why do you think they are extinct today?
First of all, one has to understand that the number of sparrows is just reducing in the city limits whereas they are plenty in number in villages. As it is widely propagated, it is not because of the cell phone towers. It is mainly because they find it difficult to survive here due to lack of food and shelter. Also, the pigeons in the city drive them away. Hence, there is a need to conserve them by creating reserves for sparrows. Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Shamshabad is one of the natural reserves in the city.
Q. What are the other birds in the city that are on the verge of extinction?
The Great Indian Bustard is one of the birds that has gone out of sight. The birds are heavy and are considered to be tasty. Hence, the consequences of such clandestine activities resulted in their extinction. Vultures are extinct in the combined state of Andhra Pradesh.
Q. What about the birds whose population has increased in recent times?
Until a few years ago, the population of peacocks was heavily dropping. Here again, it was for their meat that the birds are being killed. Since it is the national bird, the government acted in time. Now, the population of peacocks has gone up in the city. A lot of them are visible in KBR park and other areas in the city. Similarly, the population of bats also has widely increased. One can see a number of bats in Tank Bund area as there are a lot of mosquitoes there.
Q. What do you think is the government’s responsibility in conserving the environment?
Presently, the government is trying its best to conserve the environment. Their initiative to plant 230 crore saplings across the state is a very good initiative. However, the suggestion that I would like to give to GHMC is to plant trees that are useful to birds and humans alike. As of now, they are concentrating only on the greenery part without considering certain needs. Trees like blackberry, tamarind, mango will provide enough food and shelter to animals as well.
Q. What about the forest cover in the state?
The percentage of the forest area in the State is stagnant, which is 23%. However, due to the recognition of Forest Rights Act, the quality of the forest has gone down drastically. Previously, 20% of the forest area was dense whereas today, we only have 12%.