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     Gobar Times: Environment for Beginners

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Ask me! No?


M U C K  M A I L


Dear Panditji,
While I appreciate the red alarm that your story on ‘Missing Birds’ strikes for the dwindling number of birds, I have to make a few remarks about the contents. I may sound a bit blunt, for which I seek your pardon beforehand. The article is not restricted to the city birds, which are normally dependant on human settlements. So I consider sparrows, crows and pigeons only as the city birds.

Your article rightly brings out the survival of crows due to their adaptability to changing circumstances. But the dwindling number of sparrows is attributed to ‘infant mortality’ due to starvation on account of their not being fed the soft worms and caterpillars, which are killed by the use of pesticides. Sure it is a nice way to get rid of these pests, but do the birds eat all the worms to the extent required by a farmer to save his crop? If not, can he reserve a plot of his farm untreated for the birds to take care and feed their young ones?

Similarly Smt. Lalitha Vijayan’s explanation that urban people spraying their gardens with pesticides; the pesticides finding their way to the water bodies; and city birds drinking this polluted water and dying, seems more academical than real. In my rosiest dreams, I cannot see people in a city having their gardens, watering them, using pesticides etc.

Long ago, perhaps in Science Today, I had read an article on the life cycle of sparrows. It was stated that the sparrows are the timidest birds and abandon their food at the slightest distrubance. This poor eating habit causes tuberculosis, which was the main reason for their death. The article was based on a large number of autopsies on the dead sparrows.

Also, the death due to predators is a natural occurrence and not specific to cities. I had come across the debate of use of natural predators to control pests, before I retired from Horticulture Department. The entomological studies have shown that the breeding rate of the pests far exceeds that of the predators, which is perfectly in keeping with the Nature’s Laws. So the argument of the reign of natural predators against pests remains more theoretical than practical.

S M Chandawarkar
Via E-mail

Dear Panditji,
I have gone through the last edition of GT and it was very informative. There is no doubt that birds are disappearing in urban areas, but these are also dwindling in rural areas too, due to changing socio-climatic structure. Felling of trees and use of agro-chemicals may be one important reason.

Many of these birds are bio-indicators of environmental health and their very sight generates in us a feeling of happiness to our life. As such their survival is essential as that of ours. My team is working on safety issue of Diclofenac in vultures in association with BNHS. I feel we must also emphasise on our ancient ways to conserve bio-diversity and environment.

Congratulations for the good work being done by DTE and GT.

Dr D Swarup
Head, Division of Medicine and Incharge, Centre for Wildlife, IVRI, Izatnagar

Dear Panditji,
There is something I feel very strongly about. Can’t we get our children to start a campaign to force battery manufacturers (big, small, cell) to create a countrywide facility to take back used batteries? Something as simple as a collection box for used batteries in every shop that sells new batteries, and maybe a nominal return price to encourage returns. It really worries me to see the way we consume and discard batteries without a thought. Perhaps we could get children passionate about the safe disposal of dead batteries? It’s their world that we’re polluting.

Long may you continue your good work.

Shyamala K Das
Via E-mail


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