Kite flying is done with fun and fervour across India on the occasion of Makar Sankranti/Uttarayan festival and on India’s Republic Day and Independence Day cebrations held in the month of January and August, respectively.
Every year, thousands of birds across India lose their wings and their lives due to injuries caused by the glass-coated kite flying maanja/string, used for flying kites and in kite flying competitions. These are usually Made in China and are preferred over the traditional Indian cotton thread string/”saddi”, as they are sharp and help cut the other person’s kite string and help people win bets, games and kite-flying competitions.
What people don’t realise is that their moment of pleasure and entertainment is blood-sucking! As heads, wings or claws of birds are mutilated by maanja, once entangled in it. Birds die of excessive blood loss or are crippled for life.
Please let us not entertain ourselves at the cost of these lives.
Not only does this glass-coated manja hatm animals and birds, it has also fatally harmed kids, adults and bikers.
Flying kites with manja is definitely no fun for families who lose their loved ones or for birds who become entangled and fatally injured in the deadly glass-coated string.
Manja is deadly to thousands of pigeons, crows, owls and other birds who get entangled in it. The birds’ wings are often severed, dooming the animals to an agonising death.
Even after the kite flying festivals are over, these manjas which remain entangled on electricity poles or tree branches, continue to entrap them.
Life is a puzzle which gets deciphered when we look back and connect the dots. When I was in school, I had yearned for people to come over and talk to us about animals and environment but no one did, I tried to do it myself-telling my fellow classmates about not using polybags to dump kitchen waste as it kills a cow and clogs our drains, but no one listened….probably I didn’t communicate the right way or perhaps that was because our teachers didn’t reinforce what I said or probably because no one had the time to think about ‘going green’ as that buzzword wasn’t around at that time, neither was ‘Environment’ a career option as my School counsellor was clueless when I went and asked her about it.
Nevertheless growing up, I had always harboured deep within me a dream and a desire to go back to my school and speak to students and teachers therein on subjects pertaining to animals and environment because this is all I had always wanted to do and this is one of the reasons ‘Jaagruti’ was born…
And who says, dreams don’t come true, they do take time but I believe they do come true…and sometime back I had the opportunity to go back to my school and address the students in there not once but twice on subjects close to my heart, once on ‘Waste Management’ and the second time around I had the opportunity to address an Eco-Club seminar which was attended to by eco-club teachers from about 15 more schools and a group of Eco-club students from Classes 9-12. The focus of this interaction with teachers and students was to apprise them of the little things they can share with their colleagues/students/classmates on what all we as ‘individuals’ can do in our daily lives to help street animals and care for the environment.
One of the many things I had touched upon in this interaction was how many birds-eagles/kites, crows, mynahs and pigeons often become victims of kite strings-the glass manjhas/threads used by people to fly their kites high into the sky.
Though the kite flying games end, these kite strings often end up tearing through many a birds wings, either while they navigate through the open skies or when later on when these birds perch on the tree branches-their tiny claws/legs and wings remain susceptible to be trapped in the strings left wound around tree branches forever…
Someone in the audience that day in my former school was listening carefully to what I was saying and that was Ms. Rajbir Kaur, a teacher from a neighbouring school who was faced with a similar situation a few weeks later and that is when she called us over on the ‘Jaagruti’ helpline.
As Ms. Kaur’s family was attending to guests, the little kids in the family spotted a pigeon hung upside down from the branch of a Eucalyptus tree, the kids tried and tried along with their father of ways to get the pigeon down, but the tree was so far away from any houses’ balcony and the branches were too high, that it was not within reachable distance from the common ladders and poles we all have in our homes and they were now feeling helpless.
Ms. Kaur called us over, and after listening to the story thus far, we just gave her one calm advice to follow-to call the Delhi Fire Service on 101 and request them to send over their Fire Brigade as their long ladder will help. The Delhi Fire Service staff has time and again helped people help birds stuck in such situations and needless to say when Ms. Singh called 101, they were prompt in sending their Fire Brigade over….just that there was one thing she missed telling them…which is what height the pigeon was stuck on and thus the Fire Brigade that came didn’t have a ladder that long to reach the pigeon. And it was then that we all had to sincerely request the Delhi Fire Service staff to call for the Fire Brigade with a longer ladder and they agreed after initial hesitation. Their hesitation was that since this was a festival day and there could be fire emergencies in the city, how could they be here saving a bird…we assured them that if there is any such emergency; we will let them go and may be God will be kind enough to spare Delhi of any fire disasters and then they agreed :)
The Delhi Fire Service then called upon their most prized possession ‘The Bronto Skylift’, a new entrant into their fleet of Fire Brigades and then began the story of a heroic rescue of nothing but a pigeon who was hanging upside down and still uptil then making everyone wonder whether it was even alive!
But then, as soon as the Bronto Skylift’s ladder reached near that branch, the Pigeon started fluttering its wings in hope and excitement as if to convey that it was well alive and kicking!
The Delhi Fire Service staff got a heroic applause as they brought the pigeon safely down and then taking it to Ms. Kaur’s residence even helped cut the kite string which was wound around its wing, in such a neat manner that there was no injury caused to the pigeon, now named ‘Hero’ by Ms. Kaur’s husband-Mr. Singh. Since it is not advisable to release birds like Pigeons at night time, Mr. Singh’s family gave ‘Hero’ a nice place to rest, grains and water to feed on and even put on their water cooler (while switching the fan off) so that ‘Hero’ has a restful sleep.
Next morning, we went and took the pigeon for further examination to Abhinav at Fauna Police and then the next day since the pigeon was all good and healthy, Mr. Singh got him back on his way back from work and released it onto his balcony.
And then, the anticlimax happened, ‘Hero’ actually ended up being a ‘Heroine’, which is that Pigeon wasn’t a male but rather a female pigeon who then chose to use an abandoned nest atop an almirah placed in Mr. Singh’s balcony to lay her eggs :)
The story of Heroine’s rescue and release has been delightfully documented in the video shared by Mr. Singh with us below. Have a look!
Mr. Singh had this to say, “By saving this bird’s life, the Delhi Fire Service has shown that they respect and value all life (humans and animals) and that is what all of us need to learn and imbibe”.
Then onwards Mr. Singh’s family has also taken the initiative of getting all of their colony’s street dogs vaccinated against Rabies, which were uptil then only being fed by the area residents, but they took on additional responsibility and expense to make sure that these dogs are now vaccinated as well.
It is said that doing one good deed prompts you to do the next one and thus, the spirit of compassion continues to flow!
Credits: This article has been posted here thanks to the information circulated by Charu Shah through the Facebook Group ‘Awareness on Kite Flying’, Neha Patel (from Baroda, Gujarat), Nilesh Bhanage (from PAWS Mumbai), Fauna Police (at Delhi) , Wildlife Rescue (at Delhi)
Every year, the festival of Makar Sankranti (falling this year on 14th January 2011) is celebrated with a lot of joy and cheer, but hardly few people know that this joy causes death to many innocent birds.
People use manja/kite string made of glass, so that the kites they fly don’t get cut easily and fly higher, but what they don’t realise is that the same threads responsible for killing a lot of birds every year while crippling others for life.
This glass manja (glass powder treated string or also called Chinese string/manja)gets entangled in the trees and cause death not only on that particular day, but for months after that.
The legs or wings of the birds that sit on those trees, have nests therein or fly past its branches get entangled in this manja, and stay there, sometimes hanging upside down for days …on end, bleeding, and dying a slow miserable death.The most common bird to fall prey to kite flying in the city of Delhi is ironically a raptor bird, known as Kite (to learn more about this, read this article till the end).
Apart from regular birds like sparrows, pigeons, crows, some exotic birds, who have migrated from far off places across the world, also get entangled in the web of glass manjas and loose their lives.
Not to mention here that many humans also get their throats and fingers slit because of these manjas hanging lose all over the place.
So if possible, please celebrate the festival spreading cheer and not death!
(Design Courtesy: Fauna POLICE)
Attached below are come contact numbers for bird rescue in Mumbai (Maharashtra) and Baroda (Gujarat).
All these numbers have been verified by Ahimsa in malad and by Charu Shah, so please forward this piece of information to all your contacts, and please try to save a life this year!
Please note that some of these people listed below may not have an ambulance service to come and take the injured bird, but YOU CAN (and should) definitely take an injured bird you spot to either of these people and request them to administer it medical treatment and take care of the bird until it is fit to fly again.
Why do so many Raptors get injured in Delhi because of kite strings?
Poster Courtesy: PAWS
Delhi is one of the largest producers of meat, as a result of which large amount of meat scrap gets dumped across various corners of the city in illegal slaughterhouses spread across the city. The extinction of Vultures acted as a boon for Black kites (Milvus migrans) and gradually, there was a rapid rise seen in the population of Black Kites.
In India, people love to fly paper kites with the help of sharp glass coated strings/Glass Manja. This string acts like a ‘naked sword’ in sky and generally cuts everything which comes in its way whether it’s a bird or any human being. There have been many cases in which this ‘Manja’ has killed many human beings with fatal wounds on their throat.
We request you to kindly consider giving up kite flying or if you still love flying kites, fly them using a coton string, referred to as ‘saddi’ in Hindi .
For the glass string that gets tied on poles, tree branches also acts as an inevitable injury and death trap for birds of all species as they get entangled in them.
Once caught in these glass manjas, these birds are find it extremely difficult to break free and in the effort that they make to free themselves from these mesh of strings, they end up damaging their wings and other body parts, like damaging their toes.
If ever you spot an injured bird of prey like Kites, Eagles or any other non-vegetarian birds, please dial the following Helpline Numbers in Delhi – 9810029698, 9810129698,
For all other kind of birds, like Crows, Pigeons, Owls etc.,contact : 9810639698, 986855222, 9212111116
On the evening of 16th August 2010, we at ‘Jaagruti’ got a rescue call divert from Manta at Angel Eyes Animal Welfare Foundation, she wanted to check whether we would be able to rescue a pigeon which had become a victim to the glass-coated kite string (commonly termed as ‘glass maanja‘) at CU Block in Pitampura area of Delhi.
We were located in the other part of the city when the call came but promised to pick up the pigeon at night and leave it for treatment with the team at Wildlife Rescue who are now self-trained experts at suturing kite string induced injuries in birds.
We were informed that the pigeon is not in anybody’s house but rather in a market and we spoke to Swati, the young girl who had made the rescue call to the helpline. Swati is not a person who likes animals still carries within her a soul that was compassionate to the pigeon’s suffering and she hid the injured pigeon on the staircase in this marketplace to avoid it being consumed as a meal by any other animal.
When we reached the marketplace, to our troubles, the grill gate safeguarding the staircase was locked but on asking a helpful neighbourhood stall owner the trick to get it opened, we were promptly directed to the security guard of this market and he willingly opened the grill gate and we could access the staircase…as we stepped up a few stairs, we saw a young pigeon injured on its left wing sitting quietly tucked underneath the handrail of the stairs on the other side. Thankfully, the wound wasn’t bleeding any more.
In the carton: Pigeon with kite string injuried rescued from CU block at Pitampura
At 10.45 pm that night, the pigeon was safely delivered to Saud of Wildlife Rescue and he helped remove the kite string that had entangled in the pigeon’s wings and caused it to slit and bleed. the suturing of the wound was done that very night.
Soon after, the pigeon was sent to recuperate to the aviary at Fauna Police under Abhinav’s care.
Thanks to all the care provided at the aviary, the pigeon’s injured wing healed within a couple of weeks and the pigeon was set free much to all of ours delight.
It wasn’t by any means a great rescue act but this was surely a small united effort on part of many helped this pigeon take to the skies again.and as is said, “There are no great things, only small things with great love”.
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