Bangalore, once a favourite habitat of sparrows, has virtually seen an exodus of the tiny birds from the City — so much so that we now have to have a day to remember them. Today is World Sparrow Day.
While there are initiatives in place to protect and save tigers, elephants and other animals, not much has been done to protect sparrows. “The number of sparrows has gone down considerably and to see one now is rare,” said Chandrashekhar Hariharan, chairman of the Zero Energy Development (ZED) group.
He explained that it is important to save the remaining birds and also make people aware of the problem. “Bangalore was once renowned for 68 species of birds, but over the years most of them have lost their habitat. Sparrows are the most vulnerable because they feed on seeding grass which has become reduced. Also, sparrows are a species which are reluctant to adapt to new habitats — leaving them vulnerable to changing environmental conditions,” he added.
To create more awareness among Bangaloreans, Hariharan started various programmes such providing sparrow nests for the public to take home. He has also started a seed planting initiative. “In the last two years, we have distributed over 49,400 nests to the public. These nests have been designed like the original nests of sparrows to encourage the birds to roost there,” he said, but added that the nests needed further development.
“Of all the nests that we have distributed, only two per cent of them have had sparrows make it their home.”
While talking about other initiatives, Hariharan said schoolchildren play an important part in their campaign. “We started a Million Seedballs programme in the City schools, wherein we invited schoolchildren to come and sow a seed. We chose 26 species of trees like rain tree and gulmohar, that are endemic to the Bangalore plateau. The schoolchildren had to sow the seeds of these trees. The idea behind this was certain types of trees or plants attract sparrows,” he said.
While this drive has been taken up in various locations in the City, Hariharan said that they have attempted to take the drive to other parts of the State too. “We had a bunch of children who planted the seeds near Chintamani in Chikkaballapur district,” he said.
Sparrows play an important role in our ecosystem and their disappearance is not a good sign. While schools and some residents’ groups have come forward to help, Hariharan also requests the corporate world to particpate. “The companies can have this as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility. It is a small step towards a great cause,” he said.
To save the sparrow, call the ZED helpline: 99010 54321.