Birds fall prey to kite strings on Makar Sankranti

Awareness drives, attempts to ban production of glass-coated kite strings and similar efforts failed to save birds from kite strings on Makar Sankranti. "We have been rescuing pigeons, crows, kites and even a bat all day long. Unfortunately the bat that we found on a tree in Malad was severely entangled in the manja and couldn't be saved," said Dr Reena Dev, a veterinary doctor at the BVC and volunteer at Ahimsa rescue camp in Malad west. Though people alerted rescue camps when birds were injured, a lot of damage was already done. "Most of these birds have slit their wings and it's doubtful if they can take flight again," she added.

Animal welfare organisations like the Bombay Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Hospital, the Bombay Veterinary College, NGO Karuna, Ahimsa, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals and Plants and Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) have roped in nearly 500 volunteers to patrol the city and suburbs from January 14 to 17, when kite flying is at its peak.

Ahimsa, which set up a camp at Malad, received 80 calls and rescued 70 birds on Thursday. The SPCA ambulance rescued about 60 birds, including a few kites and two owls. NGO Karuna, which patrolled Andheri, rescued 70 pigeons.

Dharmesh Solanki of PETA pointed out that though a ban on glass-coated manja was issued by the Mumbai Police on December 10, its intensity was diluted when Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil mulled revoking the ban to support the Mumbai Kites and Accessories Manufacturers and Traders' Association. The association had sought Patil's intervention in getting the ban lifted stating that it was imposed without hearing their side. Solanki, whose group was central to issuing of the ban, said, "Hopefully by next year, there will be a proper regulation against glass-coated manja. These manjas are not just a threat to birds but even to people."

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