Cops at Mumbai’s Versova station install bird feeders to revive sparrow population
The Versova police station is pulling out all stops to revive the declining sparrow population in the city. On Wednesday, it installed 25 bird feeders in the station premises. Officers even took home 35 feeders so they can set it up at their respective homes.
Additionally, the police station has dedicated a 3,000-sq-ft plot to create an urban forest using the Miyawaki plantation technique, wherein saplings are planted at 30 times the density used in conventional forestry. The plantation will take place on Saturday, after a clean-up drive.
Ravindra Badgujar, senior police inspector, Versova police station, “Our police station is located close to green spaces. There are a lot of birds here, but not too many sparrows. We took the decision to conserve the species, with help from experts, on March 20, World Sparrow Day. The area [in the premise’s backyard] will be a small forest where birds can take shelter with more nest boxes.”
In launching the project, the Versova police took help from Afroz Shah, lawyer and beach clean-up crusader, and Mohammed Dilawar, who has been involved in sparrow conservation for the last 13 years. “The Versova police station is a prominent landmark in the area. Anyone going there will be curious about the feeders and it will help spread awareness about these birds,” said Shah.
Dilawar said there has been a marginal rise in sparrow population owing to such conservation methods. “There has been a tremendous increase in sparrow conservation practices at the grassroot level. Examples like Versova station will enhance such efforts to help stabilise their population,” said Dilawar, founder and president, Nature Forever Society (NFS).
A 2018 study by Pune-based Ela Foundation found that Maharashtra’s metropolitan cities – including Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur and Nashik – had witnessed a 50% decline in sparrow population over 10 years. Ornithologists said loss of habitat was the main threat. “The architectural designs of buildings in metropolitan cities do not allow sparrows to build nests anymore,” said Nandkishore Dudhe, programme officer, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).
“People can relate to sparrows because most of us have grown up seeing them. However, since we don’t see them anymore, there is a lingering curiosity. This interest needs to be expanded to enhance conservation efforts,” said Asad Rahmani, ornithologist and former director, BNHS.