While Sankranti is a time when the popularity of kite-flying picks up, it is also a time when animal and avian welfare organizations in Bengaluru receive most number of bird rescue calls.
Despite a ban on the use of manja that has a glass coating and is imported from China, the practice continues. According to Avian and Reptile Rehabilitation Trust in Horamavu, there has been an increase in number of rescues of birds entangled in manja in Bengaluru in the last few months. In November 2017, the team rescued 27 birds from manja while in December, 31 were rescued.
In the first six days of January, 10 ‘manja rescues’ were conducted. These figures only represent East and North Bengaluru, where the Trust operates. The numbers could be higher, as many cases go unreported, and bird deaths are not recorded, say volunteers.
“Flying kites is not a problem. It is the string used that is a danger to birds. Manja gets entangled on trees and turns into bird traps. There is a lot of discarded manja out there. It does not degrade easily. Though normal thread can also pose a problem, it is not as harmful,” said Jayanthi Kallam, co-founder of the trust.
Non-governmental organization People for Animals (PfA) gets more calls in January. “The number of rescues go up during the breeding and hatching season – November and March. Fledglings face the greatest risks during the kite-flying season,” said Alpana Bhartia, founder-trustee, PfA.
Most of the rescued birds during this season are kites, crows and owls.
Most suffer severe injuries to the extent that they can never fly again.
Ban has not worked
Experts say that the ban has been ineffective as manja imported from China has been replaced by different varieties called ‘desi manja.’ Strings made of nylon and plastic are equally sharp and can cause bird fatalities.
Animal welfare organizations are trying to create awareness against the use of manja. The Trust has launched a social media campaign. PfA also conducts events and campaigns during Sankranti.
A bird-friendly festival
The Rotary Bangalore Lakeside will be organizing the third edition of the Bengaluru Kite Festival on January 21 at the BBMP Playground in HSR Layout. “It is an eco-friendly festival and we ensure that no harm is done to birds or the environment. Visitors must buy the kite kit from us, which has paper kite and a cotton thread,” said Nabin Roy, club member. Last year’s festival saw over 9,000 participants and the club expects the number to go up to 15,000 this year. “The proceeds from sales of the kite kit will be used to fund our programmes in rural Karnataka,” Mr. Roy added.