March 20 is celebrated globally as World Sparrow Day. It was first observed in India more than a decade ago, in 2010. The day is aimed at the conservation of the sparrow and raising awareness about the bird species.
World Sparrow day was first celebrated in India as a result of the collaboration of India’s Nature Forever Organisation and Eco-SysAction Foundation of France. Compelled by a rapid decline in the population of the species, the effort was to involve people to work cohesively to protect and preserve sparrows.
Initiatives were taken to establish sparrow-friendly habitats, educate people to avoid chemicals harmful to the birds and raise sustained awareness about the importance of sparrows to the environment.
Commonly found in agricultural, rural, suburban, and urban environments, the House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) is a non-migratory bird. The species has been associated with human settlements.
It was observed that since the early 1980s, several parts of the world, including India, witnessed a decrease in the population of Sparrows.
An ornithological survey undertaken by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research reveals that the Sparrow population declined by 80% in Andhra Pradesh alone and by 20% in other states, including Kerala, Gujarat, and Rajasthan. In coastal areas, the dip has been reported to be around 80%.
To deal with the crisis, a number of conservation efforts were taken by the various governments and bird lovers in India. The capital also chipped in with remedial measures to protect the numbers and increase mass awareness.
However, in 2012, the House Sparrow completely vanished from Delhi’s urban areas. The then Chief Minister of Delhi, Sheila Dikshit, declared Sparrow as the state bird and launched a massive campaign to conserve the species. The efforts bore the results.
With various initiatives in place, House sparrows are now being spotted in various places. In May 2022, Delhi built its first ‘Gouriaya Gram’ in Garhi Mandu city forest to protect and conserve the House sparrow.
Sohail Madan, conservationist and assistant director of the Bombay Natural History Society said the setup is a model to conserve the species and increase their number. Madan worked closely with the Delhi government to establish ‘Gouraiya Gram’. “Gouraiya Gram has been built to protect and conserve house sparrows. Here, we have set up insect feeds for the house sparrows, providing them with insecticide-free food,” he told The Patriot.
Various studies have shown that the Sparrow is crucial to the environment as they keep insects and pests under control. The theme for World Sparrow Day 2023 was “I love Sparrows.” This has been chosen to highlight the essence of both individuals and organisations in sparrow conservation.
With more than 7 years of experience in Journalism, Tahir Bhat is Chief Sub-Editor at Patriot. Tahir has reported on Human Rights, Economy, Polity, Society, Culture.