Professor concerned over ‘disappearance’ of crows

But environmentalists beg to differ

April 23, 2017 11:17 pm | Updated April 24, 2017 07:56 am IST - Mysuru

There are mixed views on whether the common house crow is disappearing from the urban landscape.

There are mixed views on whether the common house crow is disappearing from the urban landscape.

After the disappearance of sparrows from the country’s urban landscape, the focus has now turned to the population of the common Indian house crow.

Paul R. Greenough, professor of Modern Indian History and Community and Behavioural Health, University of Iowa, the U.S., who is studying the decline of common Indian house crows or Corvus splendens, delivered two talks during his visit to Mysuru last month.

“Unlike tigers and elephants, Indian house crows eschew the jungle for villages and towns; in fact, house crows are India’s most persistent companionate species and have always flourished side by side with humans in villages and cities. Yet, crows have recently begun to disappear”, he said during his talks on ‘Indian Crows in an Urban Context: Environmental history of a companionate species’.

“While biologists usually blame falling bird numbers on over-hunting or habitat loss or industrialisation, such pressures do not weigh unduly on house crows, which are never hunted, often indulged and hand-fed and frequently worshipped,” he said.

His talk not only explored the bird’s disappearance from India, but also threw light on the the unexpected resurgence of house crow colonies in Africa, the West Asia and Southeast Asia.

Prof. Greenough was trying to mobilise opinion against mindless habitat destruction in urban areas and the consequences of biodiversity loss, said Rekha Shanmukha, Deputy Director of Vivekananda Institute of Indian Studies (VIIS), where one of the talks was held.

However, environmentalists in Mysuru were at variance with Prof. Greenough’s concerns over the disappearance of crows.

The Mysore City Bird Atlas 2014-16, a pioneering effort to comprehensively document birds by surveying the roughly 160 sq kms of Mysuru city, does not indicate any decline in the population of house crows over the last three years.

Manu K., an environmentalist representing Mysore Amateur Naturalists (MAN), described crows as a “resilient” species that had kept pace with the changing environment.

Though urbanisation affects the crow population, he said crows were very intelligent and adapt to the changes.

They need trees for nesting and a nearby foraging area to meet their food requirement.

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