Altaf Rahman, a 19-year-old student of Jamia Hamdard University, and 18-year-old Salik Rehman have been doing rounds of the city and rescuing birds injured during the kite-flying season. Both are volunteers with Wildlife Rescue, an organisation dedicated to rescuing birds of prey in distress. Says Rahman, “I am in college till noon, and in the evening I help in rescuing birds through Wildlife Rescue. Whenever we get a rescue call, we help the injured birds.”
Nadeem Shehzad of Wildlife Rescue says, “This happens every year around Independence Day, when people indulge in kite flying. At this time, injuries to raptors are at an all-time high. Cases of raptors getting injured because of getting entangled in the string of the kite increases by 80% in this season.”
Usually, two types of threads are used to fly kites. The regular white thread is not that harmful, but the glass coated thread, called manja, creates maximum destruction. Birds get injured, maimed and even killed when they end up getting entangled in the manja. “The glass coated thread acts like a sharp knife. The bigger the bird, the more are its chances of getting a bigger injury. At times, the entire wing ends up coming off and then the bird is never able to fly again,” says Shehzad. “The Chinese non-breakable version of strings are worse. Once a bird gets entangled in it, they are unable to free themselves on their own,” he adds.
Veterinary hospitals have recorded an increase in the number of birds being admitted due to manja injury. “This happens every year. It’s the pressure of these two or three days around I-Day, that we get birds that are injured because of kite flying. They get entangled in the string of the kite and end up getting injured,” says Prem Narayan Gupta of Jain Bird Hospital in Chandni Chowk. It is not just on Independence Day that the birds run the risk of getting injured. Even the unattended manja that gets entangled in trees and sticks there for months, injures birds who build their nests there.