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     Gobar Times: Environment for Beginners

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Ask me! No?

 

 

 

G O B A R  S P E A K

P A N D I T J I   A N S W E R S

 
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E-mail me at this address: panditji@cseindia.org

Dear Panditji,
I’m a Class X student of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, in Hyderabad. I have got a project on why some birds like vultures and sparrows, are on the verge of extinction in India. I request you to tell me why vultures and sparrows are rarely seen in India these days.

Vishnu Partheep Tej,
Hyderabad

Dear Vishnuji,
You’ve got an interesting job on your hands and a chance to study wildlife. It is true that sparrows and vultures are becoming an uncommon sight in India. Naturalists and bird-watchers are figuring out many reasons, two among them are — habitat loss and air pollution. Sparrows are sociable creatures with whom we share our space. They flock our backyards, gardens and our terrace tops,
that have tonnes of insects and seeds for these birds to feed on. But these green areas are now replaced by concrete structures. Sparrows prefer thatched roofs where they can build their nests in the crevices. The high-rise buildings in urban areas, have no room for the kind of homes sparrows
will want. Sparrows are also losing their roosting sites. They usually don’t roost in the same tree canopy with other birds like crows or mynahs. They seek trees close to their feeding places. Where such trees are not available, sparrows are fewer. One way to revive the sparrow population is to nurture their habitat, so that they return to their homes.

wildlifeIt is not just the cities, but even villages that are seeing fewer sparrows. These birds usually eat grains. These grains contain many pesticides and fertilisers — something that is killing them. Another poisoning factor is air pollution, which has led to the death of a huge number of insects that the sparrows feed on.

In the case of vultures too, it is the pesticides that is killing them. Pesticides sprayed on crops affect vultures all the more since they play a vital role in the food chain. But a drug called diclofenac found in carcasses of cattle that vultures feed on, is the main culprit. Cattle are treated with this drug. Diclofenac damages the lungs of vultures. The Indian government has now banned diclofenac. Farmers have been asked to replace this drug with alternatives that are less toxic to the birds. But it is not yet clear whether diclofenac is the only threat to the existence of vultures. Meanwhile, do some bird-watching and write to us. Tell us about the sparrows in your locality and what you would do to save them.

Dear Panditji,
I want to know about water audit and how we could implement it in our college? I need detailed information on this.

Jayakumar,
Karnataka

vulturesDear Jayakumarji,
Glad to hear about your keen interest in water management. CSE is conducting water audit in many schools and colleges and is studying them. You could look at some important elements before conducting a water audit for your college. Form a water audit team in your college, comprising some students, teachers and administrative staff. Ask them to find out information on source of water, consumption pattern and water recycled. Also find out how much water your college is saving. The water unit in CSE conducts water audits for colleges and schools. They will be able to guide you.

Meanwhile, you may order a copy of the Green Schools Programme manual — a guide for doing a self-assessment on environmental management for schools. The water audit chapter can be used for doing a water audit for your college.

 

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