Thursday, 22 March 2012

Social Media and Saving the Sparrows: Tweet Your Chirps!

CHENNAI: For most people, the only sparrow that probably rings a bell is 'Captain Jack Sparrow'. Movie buffs will remember Johnny Depp for his eccentric role in the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. But for World Sparrow Day (March 20), this year themed, 'Chirp for the Sparrow! Tweet for the Sparrow', it seems a massive cyber campaign for public awareness across the globe is underway.

Says Nashik-based 'sparrow man' Mohammed Dilawar, "There are only five species of sparrows in the country, apart from the house sparrows that are on a steady decline." And with large numbers of people required to support conservation efforts, he adds, "Just tagging a poster to create awareness about house sparrows on Facebook or forwarding an SMS encouraging people to place a bowl of water outside their homes can go a long way in spreading the word."

Dilawar, also the founder of the Nature Forever Society, an NGO which works for conservation of� biodiversity and house sparrows in particular, has a following of 1, 292 members on the community's Facebook page. An elderly member, Ramachandran Seeplaputhur uploads a colourful picture of a house sparrow and then posts below, "Spotted them on the neighbouring building.

Their sweet song is something out of this world !" While on another social networking site, Twitter, a barrage of tweets on the reasons for sparrow decline and its prevention pop up one after the other.

Bhavani, an enthused supporter tweets her resolve for the day, "world�sparrow�day: 20th march! mobile towers one of the big causes for the decline... lets all switch off... to ever more chirps!"

And it isn't just the older generation, that grew up with the pleasant chirps of� these once common house sparrows, that is joining the cause.
As one would expect with rampant social media taking over many a household, a large section of youngsters are joining in as well.
KV Sudhakar, president of the Madras Naturalists Society, says, "Our youngest member is only 12 years old and is very serious about bird watching and conservation." He adds, "So, in future, we hope to take this initiative to schools in Chennai and encourage the students to keep nestboxes and feeders on campus to attract these birds back to our urban spaces."

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