In comparison to last year, the kite strings left more birds injured during the Makar Sankranti festival this year, say animal lovers.
“This year, the number of bird injuries has increased. This weekend, we rescued 365 birds compared to 270 during the festival last year,” said DK Shah, a bird rescuer from Kandivli. “With Makar Sankranti falling on a weekend this year, more people tried flying kites,” said Jayprakash Jain, a bird rescuer from Borivili, who rescued 246 birds during the last three days.
Also, the number of bird rescue calls was higher from the north-western suburbs of Borivili, Kandivili and Malad, which have a large number of kite flying enthusiasts.
Among the injured birds, the worst affected were the blue rock pigeons, a common sight in the city. “During the festival, we rescued 206 injured birds of which 186 were pigeons,” said lieutenant colonel (retired) JC Khanna, secretary, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). Of the 365 birds rescued, 335 were pigeons, said Shah.
Birdwatchers believe that owing to the abundance of species, large number of pigeons was affected during the festival in city. “There is a human induced population explosion of pigeons in the city,” said Mohammad Dilawar, founder of Nature Forever Society, referring to the kabootar khanas that have helped the pigeon population grow.
The blue rock pigeons are not local species and were brought to India from Europe. “They have increased the competition for food for the local species and have also caused imbalance in the ecosystem,” said Aadesh Shivkar, a bird watcher.
“The pigeon droppings cause respiratory problems for humans and also corrode metals endangering heritage structures,” said Asad Rahmani, director, Bombay Natural History Society.