SOS Birds!


The creation has been meticulously designed. No matter how small or how big a creature is, each lives a co-dependent life in harmony with the other. Or so it was intended to be. In a recent speech, former CEO of Citi Bank, Phillip Wollen made a very convincing statement in favour of ‘going vegan’ saying, “Only 100 billion people have ever lived. 7 billion people live today. And yet we torture and kill 2 billion living beings every week. 10000 entire species are wiped out every year because of the actions

of one.”


A recent study by Stanford University biologists has predicted that ten per cent of all bird species are likely to disappear by the year 2100, and another 15 percent could be on the brink of extinction.

“Our projections indicate that, by 2100, up to 14 percent of all bird species may be extinct and that as many as one out of four may be functionally extinct-that is, critically endangered or extinct in the wild,” said researcher Cagan H. Sekercioglu of the Stanford Center for Conservation Biology (CCB) and lead author of the PNAS study. “Important ecosystem processes, particularly decomposition, pollination and seed dispersal, will likely decline as a result.”

This dramatic loss is expected to have a negative impact on forest ecosystems and agriculture worldwide and may even encourage the spread of human diseases, according to the study published in the Online Early

Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in December.

One in eight bird species worldwide faces the threat of extinction. And the worst part is that it is not just the rare or exotic species, but also the birds that have been a part of our everyday life growing up. The chirping sparrows in the balcony don’t wake us up any more and the dancing peacocks are now a rare sight.

Peacock, India’s national bird faces a serious threat owing to increased poaching to sell peacock feathers, indiscriminate use of pesticides by farmers and legal loopholes to nab the offenders. Rajasthan hosts about 60% of the country’s peacock population and the numbers have fallen drastically to less than half. Sparrows are facing endangerment in many parts of the world and have practically disappeared from Delhi, owing to the extreme radiation from cell phone towers.

Agriculture is actually one of the leading reasons for the steep decline of birds across the country putting close to 87% of our birds at a risk of extinction and invasive species put 51% of the total birds at risk, in addition to residential and commercial development, trapping, hunting and pollution. Most of the causes mentioned above lead to destruction and degradation of the natural habitat of birds.

Vultures are also fast becoming endangered since they feed on carcasses of animals that have been subjected to high doses of pesticides and plastic we ignorantly throw away. As if this was not enough, a drug, diclofenac, which even though has been used in human medicine for decades, has only recently been introduced for veterinary use in India and Pakistan. A three-year study by The Peregrine Fund and Ornithological Society of Pakistan (BirdLife in Pakistan) investigating vulture mortalities in the Pakistan Punjab. The study found that 85 percent of 259 vultures examined had died of visceral gout, a condition caused by renal failure. Vultures appear to have been exposed to the drug while scavenging livestock carcasses.

Across the Mediterranean, millions of Songbirds are killed for food, money & cruel entertainment. In Cyprus and Malta, birds such as warblers, cuckoos, small owls and hawks are a delicacy. In Egypt alone, around ten million migratory birds are killed every year, when they come exhausted over the Mediterranean Sea and get trapped in precarious nets set up over the sand dunes and are then offered as a delicacy all across the country.

The fact is taste buds across the world and more than everything else, our intentions are scary. Even a minute disruption in the ecological system has the potential to bear big results. Call it the food chain or call it the cycle of Karma; what you do will come back to you.

The issue, however, is not just the direct greed that we satisfy by killing millions of animals. It is the gory selfishness that we portray in our very acts that has created havoc all around us. Birds are not just pretty creatures; they are an important indicator of environmental health as they are sensitive to changes in the environment. Deforestation, cutting down mountains to build dams, harmful radiations in name of technology – you name it. What we forgot was that this creation was not handed down to us to abuse. It was ours to nurture and protect. Vedas define ‘Dharma’ as a duty one has to perform to protect all life forms that are weaker than them – be it birds, trees, animals or people. And though we see many jostling to temples, observing fasts and performing havans – we really do not see anyone living by the ‘Dharma’.


“Only 100 billion people have ever lived. 7 billion people live today. And yet we torture and kill 2 billion living beings every week. 10000 entire species are wiped out every year because of the actions of one.” – Phillip Wollen, former CEO Citi Bank.



TIW Bureau

TIW Bureau

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