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Thursday, March 25, 2010

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Sparrows no longer chirp in city

Bushra Baseerat | TNN

Hyderabad: The house sparrow may have disappeared from your window sill long ago but these real twitters now survive in cages and can be bought for as less as Rs 80 a pair in the bird market of the Old City.
Sitting in their cages amidst scores of other more colourful birds at Mehboob Chowk (off Lad Bazaar), sparrows still have some takers here. Called ‘chudi’ in the local dialect, merchants say that people cutting across faiths believe in releasing sparrows during auspicious days to cleanse their souls. And Rs 80 is a small price to pay for penance.
Traders say the prices have actually gone up with the city shutting its doors to the house sparrow. The price of a pair of house sparrow which varied between Rs 30-40 a few years
ago has doubled now due to their dipping numbers. Sadly a large number of sparrows die when released and those that survive may take a flight to freedom but are captured again and brought back into business by traders.
“Some communities do ‘nazar’ (ward off evil eye) over an ailing child and free the bird,’’ says Mohammed Irfan, a worker at one of the nearly 50 stores in the market. On auspicious days as well as on ‘amawas’, the demand for these birds increases.
But the demand for the sparrow in this market is no longer as good, which would have been good news had it not been for reasons such as poor profits and disinterest in the bird among people. Earlier, every other store in the market traded sparrows but now very few do, say traders. Driven out of the city, which has lost its lung spaces, their de
mand even in this bird market is consistently dropping with people opting for more exotic birds. Bird merchants here say that until a few decades ago, there were customers who would buy as many as a hundred sparrows in one go and release them in the sky. But now merchants are reluctant to keep the birds in their shops. “We make a profit of as less as Rs 2 on sparrows since the bird catchers have to travel long distances to the city outskirts to find them,’’ says one of them.
Fareeda Tampal, state director of World Wildlife Federation says that wild bird trade continues to flourish in this market despite the ban on their capturing and trade. S Ashok Kumar, member of AP State Wildlife Board adds, “Their dwindling population in the city is a result of not only consistent felling of trees to make way for multi-storied buildings and lack of food but also due to cell phone towers. These towers generate waves which destroy eggs nestled on a tree at a distance.”
Soon enough, one would be familiar with only the online tweets.


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