Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Who is this Sparrow man?

Have you heard of Mohammed Dilawar? I had not.Till I read about him recently. He is a young birdwatcher from Nashik. He is a friend of the sparrows. One of Time's Hero of Environment 2008 awardees, he is critical about the way urbanisation is taking place in our country leaving hardly any room for trees and birds. According to Dilawar, sparrows are the best bio-indicators of urban life and environment. If we can't take care of these humble creatures, we are doomed says Dilawar.

In his opinion, sparrows are disappearing fast. There are a host of reasons. Cities are becoming concrete jungles.Tress are being felled. Cellphone towers are emitting radiation. All these and many more reasons have contributed to the steep fall in the sparrow population. Our conservation policy pays too much attention to the "fat cats" in the jungles and ignores the humble birds and other species, says Dilawar. Sparrows have been put on the Red List category by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).

Is it possible to reverse the trend? Dilawar feels that it can be done. Plant hedges, protect trees, ban catapults and ensure availability of grains. They will be back. He has launched an NGO called Nature Forever Society. He is creating awareness among bird lovers through his website.He is also distributing nest boxes for the sparrows. Environment must become central to our lives, says Dilawar. Then we can save our cities and our country.

Good to know that someone is taking cudgels on behalf of the poor,silent and hapless sparrows. They are charming,cheerful and gregarious.While surfing the internet yesterday about house sparrows, I came across a beautiful poem by the famous American poet, William Carlos Williams which I quote below:

"At that, his small size, keen eyes, serviceable beak and general truculence assure his survival –

to say nothing of his innumerable brood. Even the Japanese know him and have painted him

sympathetically, with profound insight into his minor characteristics.

Practical to the end it is the poem of his existence that triumphed finally; a wisp of feathers

flattened to the pavement, wings spread symetrically as if in flight, the head gone,

the black escutcheon of the breast undecipherable,

the effigy of sparrow, a dried wafer only, left to say and it says it without offense, beautifully;

This was I, a sparrow. I did my best; farewell."

Couldn't have been a better epitaph to the humble house sparrow.

May there be more Dilawars to save and bring back more sparrows to our cities. After all don't they like to live around human habitations?


David J said...

Wow here in Australia the presence of sparrows is a sure indicator of a degraded environment.
When sparrows move in it usually means a loss of biodiversity and the disappearance of native species.
However just like their cousin the canary (in the coal mine), if sparrows are declining without being replaced by other species, we are surely in deep trouble.

gs said...

Hello David
What an irony! One city's meat is another city's poison! I am very surprised by what you have written. I am sure there is space for house sparrows in addition to your native species.This is something quite baffling. I will email to Dilawar and ask for his opinion.
Thanks David J for your comments.

gauthmi said...

dear gs, read about sparrow man,interesting.but no inform available on how & where to source the nest boxes or feeder boxes .i am interested in doing my bit for this cause.regards,gauthmi

gs said...

dear gautami: i appreciate your concern. dilawar is nashik based and runs an NGO 'Nature for Ever'.he has a website too.he personally distributes nest boxes.please google and get his website address.he will help you.beat