Sparrows once used to be one of the commonly sighted birds not only in Haryana but in other parts of the country as well, but their population has declined alarmingly in the recent times.
VS Tanwar, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden, Haryana said that Sparrow has not completely vanished, but declining. “It is true that till a decade ago sighting Sparrow was easy in the various parts of the State.
But now the bird is not seen much in the State. The population of Sparrow has been decreasing over the past few years owing to various reasons,” he said.
Keeping in view of this, the department has decided to set up a rescue and research centre for Sparrow at the biodiversity Vulture Conservation Breeding Centre, Pinjore, located at Jodhpur village on the edge of the Bir Shikargaha Wildlife Sanctuary. The State government has approved Rs 50 lakh for rescue and research of declining species and we will start working on this project soon, Tanwar said.
The officer said that there are no exact figures of the population of sparrow in the State. There are some indications of the declining of bird species and animals in this area, he said, adding for wildlife conservation, the department of Wildlife and Forest has planned to carry out the wildlife census in the state. The Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, is the nodal agency for wildlife counting by the Central government.
The Chief Wildlife Warden said that the department has decided to establish rescue and research centre for Sparrow at Vulture Conservation Breeding Centre, Pinjore, to understand the reasons behind their declining population in Haryana. Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), an organisation working in the field of conservation of threatened bird species, will assist the department in this rescue and research project.
The centre will study the reasons for Sparrow declining and recommend methods of its prevention. “We keep and breed 25 pairs of each of the depleting species at the centre and release 100 pairs of each of the species, within ten years from the beginning of the release programme,” he added.
Moreover, describing the measures taken to protect these endangered birds, the Chief Conservator of Forests (wildlife) said the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, provides for stringent punishments for those violating the provisions of the Act. Department officials are working on to control the illegal trade of wildlife, including endangered birds and their parts or products, he added.
Hisar resident Sumitra Chowdhary who is pursuing Bachelor from Panjab University, Chandigarh said, “We love birds. Once upon a time it was in abundance in the State. Right from childhood, sparrows have fascinated me immensely. During my childhood they were all over, in and around us. We had sparrows nesting everywhere in our home and in those days no one even minded them nesting inside the home. They were a part of the family.”
Aman Sharma, a bird lover of Panchkula said that for the past 10,000 years sparrows have been companions to humans. They have evolved with us over a period of time and are an important and integral part of human-associated landscapes. Human population is growing at a frantic pace. As a result, development is happening too fast, and in way which doesn’t take issues like biodiversity conservation into consideration, when the construction of buildings, townships and development is undertaken.
The new buildings and landscaped gardens which are being constructed are not at all sparrow friendly.
The modern glass-clad match box shape buildings do not have cavities which are important for sparrows to make nests, he said, adding as the habitat and food is shrinking, so are the numbers of house sparrows. Hence, we want people to take part in the creation of alternative habitats for house sparrows by adopting nest boxes and bird feeders.
Officials said Sparrows are shy, elusive creatures. They feed only in the morning hours and are then mostly invisible during the day. Unfortunately very little works have been done to save this bird species.
“The major reasons for decline of ‘Sparrow’ was loss of their habitat due to tree felling, rampant use of pesticide ruining their food, radiation from mobile towers damaging their immune and nervous system among others,” said an official, adding several steps must be taken to protect state bird. Youth and students should be actively encouraged to involve in saving state bird. People should be encouraged to put bird feeders outside their house. Grow more plants as this may encourage some birds, who are common to that habitat, to come back.