National

Odisha village stops use of manja to save birds

A pigeon killed by manja hanging from a lightpost on the outskirts of Berhampur.

A pigeon killed by manja hanging from a lightpost on the outskirts of Berhampur.  

The number of sparrows and other birds seen near Gunthabandha in Berhampur has increased

Since 2019, inhabitants of Gunthabandha, a village on the outskirts of Odisha’s Berhampur, have completely discarded the use of abrasive manja thread for kite flying to save sparrows and other birds of their area. They followed the rule this year as well. Thanks to their efforts, along with sparrows, the number of other birds seen near Gunthabandha has also increased.

Volunteers of a youth organisation, Anchalika Vikash Parishad (AVP), have created a model for house sparrow conservation through artificial nests and feeders. Sparrow conservation began in this village in 2013, after the Cyclone Phailin killed most birds of the area. At present, all families of the village shelter sparrow families in artificial nests hung in front of their houses.

Glass powder-coated manja can cut throats and body parts of humans. As the thread does not break easily, a large number of birds are seriously injured and die when they become entangled in manja.

Children bring change

“We realised the danger when we found young sparrow hatchlings injured by the manja kept in our homes. Then we found other birds getting killed by manja,” said AVP’s president Sagar Kumar Patra. According to the secretary of the organisation, Bijendra Majhi, injuries to sparrows caused by manja thread made the children of Gunthabandha unhappy as they consider sparrows their playmates. The children in turn pressed elders and family members to stop the use of manja thread for kite flying.

But kite flying is still a major winter pastime at this village. “Like most youths and children of Gunthabandha, I have not stopped flying kites. But we use plain thread instead of manja so that we don’t harm sparrows and other birds, whom we consider members of our village,” said Kanha Bisoi.

Other villages

AVP has also started motivating the people of other villages to follow similar practices. “The villagers of Adapada in the Sanakhemundi Block and Dhunkapada in the Beguniapada Block have already been successful in checking the use of manja to some extent,” Mr. Patra said.

Since September 2018, the Forest Department, with the help of AVP, has taken up a project to make Ganjam “the first sparrow-friendly district of the State” through use of artificial nests. At least one village in each of the 22 Blocks of the district, along with the Berhampur and Gopalpur towns, already have areas in which sparrow conservation is underway. The AVP’s volunteers have also started a campaign to stop the use of manja while flying kites in all these areas.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 12:28:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/odisha-village-stops-use-of-manja-to-save-birds/article30608881.ece

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