Monday, 7 May 2012

Citizen Sparrow Survey Update

Daily News and Analysis, 7 May 2012, by Akshay Deshmane

Doff your hat to the bird watchers among yourselves in the city. More than a month after it was kicked off by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and the ministry of environment and forests, the country’s first project mapping the population density of house sparrows shows that Mumbai’s citizens have trumped those from other metropolitan cities in reporting sightings.

As per data recorded till Monday, 2,107 reports were received from India’s metropolitan cities. Of these, 492 were from Mumbai, 410 from Delhi, 404 from Bangalore, 285 from Pune, 186 from Hyderabad and 128 from Kolkata. The reports on sparrows’ population density, collated from residential areas, are categorised into ‘fair’, ‘few’, ‘large’, ‘very large’ and ‘none’. Mumbai also leads in the ‘fair’ and ‘few’ population density classifications, with 203 and 221 reports, respectively.

The data show that the city is just a chip off the old block — of the 7,100 reports from all states, more than 1,600 are from Maharashtra.

“The project seeks to study wider population trends at a particular locality in a specific timeline so that we can know the areas and habitats where sparrow populations have remained either constant, or have increased or decreased,” said Karthik K, project director of the Citizen Sparrow initiative. He credited the BNHS’ outreach work for the tremendous response from Mumbai. “But more importantly, the people of Mumbai are more willing to participate in such projects.”

An impressed public relations officer of the BNHS, Atul Sathe, said, “This is how conservation should happen, through common people’s participation. Otherwise, it becomes an activity limited to the academia. Also, this way, we can involve the average Indian in conservation by gathering data on sparrows population and then using it for research. If the project is a success, it can be replicated for other species. We will send the data to the environment ministry once they are properly compiled.”

Those looking to report sightings can do so on till May 31