Nature Forever Society working towards sparrow conservation in India
Nature Forever Society started by Environmentalist Mohammed E. Dilawar aims to create awareness for conservation of House Sparrow and also educate people on conserving the common birds which are a vital part of the ecosystem.
The common sparrow found across Asia, Europe and Africa, in urban as well as rural landscapes is a true blue symbol of the ‘beauty of the ordinary’ and so far, little attention has been given to research and practical conservation measures for sparrows and common birds. Environmentalist Mohammed E. Dilawar set up the Nature Forever Society (NFS) with the aim to change this and bring about a notion that conservation of common species of flora and fauna is as important as the conservation of threatened species. He says, “Our philosophy rests on the understanding that today’s common species are tomorrow threatened and endangered species, if timely conservation is not initiated. The best example in this regard is the case of the Indian vultures, which till a decade ago, were one of the most common raptor in the world. Today the vultures are on the brink of extinction,”
He further adds, “House sparrows and other common birds are declining across the globe and according to the latest sparrow census put together by various environmental organizations, there has been an 80 per cent decline in their numbers during the past decade. The decline of the sparrow has been a matter of much concern and debate across the country but no one wants to do anything to protect them. Also we want to conserve not just the diminishing sparrow count but also save all the common birds and biodiversity found in our immediate environment, which are often overlooked,”
Dilawar has been working for the cause of sparrow conservation for more than six years now. His efforts for the conservation of House Sparrows are recognized both at the National and International level. In 2008 he was listed on the Time Magazine as a ‘hero’ of the environment. Apart from that he has also initiated the World Sparrow Day (WSD), which will be celebrated across the globe on March 20. “The rationale of having this day is not simply to celebrate the event for a single day, but to use it to bring together all the individuals and organizations working for conservation of sparrows and urban biodiversity on a common platform. We aim to build a network which can result in better linkages of like-minded people. In the long term, it’s an effective way to carry out advocacy, do collaborative research and form national and international linkages,” he explains
Dilawar also hopes that this initiative will help in getting the attention of government agencies and the scientific community on a whole, for more conservation measures and research on common bird species and urban biodiversity. “Common birds like the sparrow are bio-indicators of the ecosystem and their decline is a constant reminder of the polluted environment we live in. Rapid urbanization, lack of nesting grounds due to increased concrete structures; excessive use of pesticides, exotic plants replacing native plants has created obstacles in habitat of the birds. To do our bit to save these birds we also distribute nest boxes and feeders as they help in spreading awareness about the conservation of the birds,”
For the World Sparrow Day, NFS will showcase exclusive photographs and information on as many as 22 of the 26 species of sparrows on its website. Among other attractions are events including an open-for-all photography contest in association with the Bangalore Photography Workshop, common bird watching trips, public discussions, exhibitions, presentations, bird rallies, art competitions, educational and public events, all aimed at paying more attention to conservation of birds in people’s neighborhoods.
Sparrows are dwindling because…
Change in building architecture in India - With increasing number of match-box type buildings (buildings which have areas like ducts etc, for larger birds like pigeons to nest) being built in India, the sparrows have a bleak chance of nesting.
Urban green desert - Today, gardens are full of exotic species of plants which have of no ecological role to play and are of no use to native birds and insects. These exotic plants are a stress on the vital resources like water and require large quantities of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. There is an urgent to need to create awareness among people to replace these species with native species.
Changing attitude and life styles - Changing attitude of people towards birds and biodiversity is one of the most important reasons why conservation becomes difficult. People today are too busy in their everyday humdrum and have little time to think about birds.Years ago, people shared a symbiotic relationship with animals and often wouldn’t mind seeing sparrows building nests in their houses. On the contrary, they would welcome the birds by regularly feeding them and providing clean water.
Mobile towers and cell phones - The advent of man-made threats like the rising numbers of mobile phone towers and microwave pollution is silent killer of sparrows.
For more information on the decline of sparrows and how you can help, visit www.natureforever.org