iconimg Saturday, August 29, 2015

Mugdha Variyar, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, January 12, 2013
As people take to flying kites on the occasion of Makar Sankranti on January 14, Ronak Savla, 21, and his volunteers will spread across the city to keep an eye on the birds injured by glass-coated kite strings. “We have trained our volunteers in basic rescue work. They will carry packets of turmeric powder to apply on the wounds and will also bring injured birds to veterinary doctors,” said Savla, a member of Ahinsa, an animal welfare group that will hold a rescue camp from Saturday to Wednesday.

“We save nearly 200 birds at our rescue campaigns held every year,” he said.

Members of the Malad-based organisation, which was set up with three members in 2009, will use the social media to send updates on their rescue efforts to their 25 centres across the city.

Last year, 485 injured birds were brought to the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) hospital in Parel during the festival. The SPCA staff had rescued more than 400 birds at different locations in the city. This year, activists hope the count will not be as high.

“Over the last five years, the count has been dropping gradually owing to increased awareness. But, it is important for people to use Indian kites with cotton threads instead of the Chinese ones with glass-coated strings,” said Lieutenant Colonel JC Khanna, secretary, SPCA.

The organisation will deploy two ambulances equipped with 12 para-veterinary staff to rescue birds on the day of the festival.

“It is good that several individuals and non-profit organisations are taking initiatives, particularly in the suburbs, to save birds,” he said.

Maulik Shah, 16, will go around Borivli with several volunteers of a local animal welfare group to look for injured birds. “My brother and I love birds and animals. We rescue birds every year during the festival,” said Shah.