Online dash to save the vanishing Sparrow

If you have been missing the once- familiar chirping of sparrows around your house, here’s your choice to contribute to finding out why this common bird seems to have disappeared from cities across India. A Two-month long online surveys called Citizen Sparrow was launched on Sunday, inviting responses from people on questions such as when they last sighted the bird and details about the area they live in. The survey can be taken at http://www.citizensparrow.in. “It is an elementary step to gather information. We are encouraging people to report their experience, be it a drastic drop in sparrow count or a sudden spurt. These inputs will give us valuable leads to compile pan-India data”, Suhel Quader, evolutionary ecologists at National Centre for Biological Sciences. The environment ministry-funded survey is being undertaken by the Natural History Society, with the help of 10 partner organizations such as Indian Bird Conservation Network and Nature Conservation Foundation. The disappearance of the house sparrows so widespread till recently that the Chinese Communist Party declared it a pest in1958 and asked people to exterminate it remains a great modern mystery worldwide. In the UK, sparrows are estimated to have declined from over 12 million to 6 million since the mid-70s. While in Europe the decline has been documented and studied, there has been no major study in India so far. Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) seeks to change that with its current initiative. “The survey would give is the first baseline data about distribution of sparrows in the country. This would form the basis for further research,” said Kathik K, project coordinator. The objective of moving ordinary citizens rather than experts comes with a purpose. “Almost everyone knows about sparrows. It is an attempt to reach out to people, asking them to share their stories and their understanding of these birds”, said Quader. Participants in the survey would be asked to mark locations on a map and give information about their sparrow sightings, including sightings from the last year and even earlier. Such information will enable a comparison of sparrows in different places, and this is expected to point to particular threats or problems. The findings are intended to feed detailed studies investing causes of decline and potential measures for the recovery of sparrow populations. Asad Rahmani, director, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) said, “The sparrow is an indicator of a trend. A number of other birds have also declined sharply in the past few decades. We hope the survey would provide more clues about why these birds are disappearing”. Courtesy:- Times Of India

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