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Tackling ordeals faced by avian species

Tackling ordeals faced by avian species
Highlights

Nearly all the birds and other life forms that depend on the green cover of our city can be preserved by protecting the national parks and the lakes around us. More than 125 regularly found bird species are distributed all over the city.

Nearly all the birds and other life forms that depend on the green cover of our city can be preserved by protecting the national parks and the lakes around us. More than 125 regularly found bird species are distributed all over the city. Can we continue to hold the bird population and diversity along with rapid urbanisation? The answer is yes. But we need to be pretty smart about protecting places and habitats.

Current conservation efforts are biased towards national parks and reserve forest areas that are way too small, separated by large spaces from each other and not immune to pollution by air, water, sound and light. Conservation work being done is pitiful and mismatched with the needs of the avian fauna.

Arun Vasireddy

Arun Vasireddy, bio-modelling engineer, an ardent bird lover, while talking to the Hyderabad Hans, said, “The winter season birds arrive in November and December every year. The biggest problem the birds face is surely water pollution. Excluding land encroachments near lakes and forest areas, habitats are spoiled by pollution and lack of awareness. By polluting the lakes with untreated waste, including industrial sewerage, we have caused a drastic fall in the number of fish and the quality of water.

“This would lead to severe shortage of food for water birds, especially migrants. Local fishermen will also find it difficult. At Ameenpur Lake birds are scared away by frightening them with gunshots,” Arun said.

During festivals, birds often find themselves caught in a riddle. Diwali, with all the noise and smoke that accompany the festival, scare away birds and other animals. The sounds cause panic among roosting birds that can be seen flying for at least a couple of extra hours in the dusk, scared and uncertain where to rest.

People scaring away birds at Ameenpur Lake

In one such incident recorded during Diwali, more than five hundred green bee-eaters were seen trying to find a safe tree at CBCID Officer’s Colony but to no avail. At Tellapur, red munia chicks remained unfed and were chirping violently till the next day of Diwali as the parents were probably still at shock to leave their nesting shrub. During Sankranthi, the thread used for flying kites – manja – is responsible for causing injuries to many birds.

As the city does not have a hospital for birds, many rock pigeons, crows, cattle egrets and raptors are seen dying painfully, usually by starvation as they cannot find food. Sankranti being the nesting time for water birds like painted storks, these are the ones that are most affected during the season. Up in the sky, these thin threads are stealthy. They cannot be seen by birds with powerful eyesight like kites, eagle-owls and shrikes. This can be reduced considerably by restraining ourselves from flying kites at dawn and before dusk.

Music at public gatherings are another cause of stress for the creatures, and often results in a painful death, where the birds, scared of the sound and unable to find a landing spot, continue to fly for hours only to drop dead at some point. The same is caused by the incessant drumming during Ganesh Chaturthi, loud speakers for Ayyappa Samarathana, etc.

The conversion of lakesides into arranged parks will undoubtedly affect avian life. The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) encouraged plants such as the Caribbean trumpet tree to be grown around the city to meet their need of greenery and pest-resistance. But non-native trees are not conducive for the survival of birds. Native trees, not just neem, babool, mango and banyan, but trees that represent the diversity of our rich state must be planted.

A survey taken in undivided Andhra Pradesh found 483 different native tree species in the state, all of which are used by birds and most of which can be grown in the city. The total number of tree types within the city is estimated to be 195, the majority of which is taken up by non-native trees such as eucalyptus, umbrella tree, carribean trumpet trees, etc. Naturalised trees such as asopalav (mast), rain tree and mango are also loved by koels, flowerpeckers, mynas and fruit bats. As can be seen in some colonies, a single drumstick or Indian coral tree would attract more birds than a row of scholar trees, the milky sap of which is poisonous.

The problems to the habitat, namely pollution in lakes, festival celebrations and lack of diversity of native or naturalised trees, cause stress to the birds and must be addressed immediately so as to ensure the safety and existence of various avian species.

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