Some changes that occur around us go unnoticed. Suddenly, they hit us hard in the face in the form of realization and there is hardly anything we can do.
Not much bigger than the size of our fists, sparrows are facing a losing battle while surviving in the modern and artificial environment being created in Mumbai. This coy bird would often frequent our neighborhood, nibbling on waste bread and grains and presenting us with a friendly chirp. However, it is now considered fortunate to witness a sighting of this tiny creature in this giant city. Mumbaikars, a term often used for the residents of Mumbai, sadly seem to be indifferent to the fate of this helpless creature.
Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), one of the largest non-governmental organizations in India engaged in conservation and biodiversity research, conducted a survey in Mumbai to prove the claim that sparrows are disappearing. An article by the Times of India, a leading newspaper in India, covered this survey. There were no sparrow nests spotted in 65 percent of the area covered, between 2005 and 2012. In all, the number of sparrows in Mumbai has decreased by a staggering 50 percent and the trend is getting worse. There may come a day when this bird disappears entirely from the city.
This bird would once flit around in peace but the effects of the Anthropocene have altered the situation. Undoubtedly, the culprits here are none other than us Mumbaikars. Primarily, we have destroyed their habitat by felling trees to build more infrastructure. The sparrows have nowhere to go and become pray to common predators, such as crows. Among other reasons, increased cell phone radiation is detrimental to their immune and nervous systems, increasing the chances of death. Evidently, this bird is not one of the fittest in the ruthless battle of survival.
This regretful occurrence has spurred environmentalists and conservationists across the city. Let us hope that their efforts are producing a miraculous positive change in the reverse direction, which too is perhaps in the stage of going unnoticed but shall surface, soon enough!