MUSSOORIE, April 6
The sound of chirpy little birds that we all know as Sparrows has gone down drastically in the country and Mussoorie is no exception.
The researchers have been pointing out that the drastic decline of round 35-45 percent has been observed in number of towns Uttarakhand namely Haridwar, Dehradun, Kotdwar, Yamuna Nagar, Roorkie, Udham Singh Nagar etc which is an enough alarm call for the need to its conservation.
Come summer and the situation becomes worse with very few places left for the nesting the numbers of sparrows is on decline say bird lovers who have lived their lives with these avian beauties.
The importance of sparrows can be gauzed from the fact that in China Mao Zedong introduced a “Four Pest” campaign in 1950’s for eradicating pests responsible for transmission of diseases, mosquitoes responsible for malaria, the rodents that spread plague and sparrows which they believed ate grain seed and fruit. Under this campaign the sparrow nests and eggs were destroyed bringing the sparrows population to the brink of extinction. However, in 1960’s the ornithologists pointed out that due to decline in number of sparrows the locus population increased in China upsetting the ecological balance which was linked to the Great famine in China. Extermination of the sparrows upset the ecological balance as with no sparrows to eat them, locust populations ballooned, swarming the country and damaging the rice fields to the extent that this move was linked to the great famine that followed. This imbalance led to Mao ending the campaign against sparrows.
Hugh Gantzer, eminent travel author and senior citizen from Mussoorie said that China’s campaign to kill sparrows is enough to describe how important the birds are for eco system.
He said that sparrow easily adapt to human habitation, but it does need lot of greenery and places to build its nest. Sparrows are important because they eat small insects that destroy the vegetation. He said that when he was boy and studying in Hampton Court School before entering the school on the right side of the school flat there was a huge climbing Rose bush that was filled with sparrows and he use to watch Mother Xavier feeding these birds, but the number of sparrows has been on decline in Mussoorie which is sad.
Gantzer said that it is a necessary to protect the animals and birds are part of our own eco-system and if one of these things in the eco-system dies then there will be a gap and it will be filled with probably something that we do not want, like in Australia where someone introduced rabbits and as they did not have naturally enemies they over bred and became a problem similarly introduction of cactus which also became a problem there.
Sparrows all over and Pigeons in plains adapt easily to human habitation but we must also help them because if it is only concrete and no greenery then they have no place for them to pick up insects as they feed on both insects and grains.
“If we get rid of them then who is going to eat the insects who devour the vegetation” said Gantzer.
For sparrows there is enough vegetation in Mussoorie and in old days we used to encourage people to have gardens by organising flower festivals added Gantzer.
There are some attempts being made to stop this decline in numbers of sparrows with some bird lover’s society handing out sparrow nests to the people. Some hoteliers in Mussoorie have begun placing these nests in their concrete structures and are inviting these avian tourists to nest and breed that too free of cost.
“We brought a Sparrows nest few days back as it has been already taken up by a pair of sparrows is a welcome sight “said Umed Singh, manager at a hotel in Mussoorie. A shallow tray of water has been placed so that they do not go thirsty during summers added Umed Singh.
Similar initiatives are being made by the director of Yasin fernery Bimol Sharma who are technical consultants for the society that runs Company garden a tourist spot in Mussoorie said that it is important to save the sparrows and they have decided to place sparrows nests in the company garden premises so that the flowers in garden can be protected from the onslaughts of the bugs and insects thus mitigating the damage to large extent. He said that if each hotel in Mussoorie can place a nest for the Sparrows it would go a long way in protecting the species whose numbers are on decline.