The custom of kite flying is one of the most popular activities during the festival of Uttarayan in Gujarat.
However, the sky becomes a death trap for millions of birds who are fatally injured by the ‘manja,’ the string used to fly the kites.
Year after year, we see photographs of birds who have been mutilated by the killer kites, especially the ones that are coated with powdered glass.
In 2017 alone, close to 3,000 birds were reportedly injured while another 500 were found dead.
While many non-profit organisations work round-the-clock to rescue the avian population, the festival-frenzy population shows very little empathy towards this cause.
This year, Gujarat intends to change that by launching Karuna Abhiyan, a statewide campaign to protect the lives of injured birds during the Kite Festival.
And standing at the forefront is the district administration of Ahmedabad, whose Collector, Dr Vikrant Pandey is personally overseeing the campaign in the city.
About 2,023 volunteers associated with various NGOs have signed up with the programme, and they have collectively managed to save as many as 4,506 injured birds in the past two days.
“Karuna Abhiyan has been a very successful campaign. The birds, which got injured during Uttarayan are being treated so that they can fly again. They will be kept in the shelter for few days till they fully recover,” said the IAS officer to Ahmedabad Mirror.
About 11 rescue and rehabilitation centres were set up across various locations in the city with the help of animal husbandry, forest and environment departments of the state.
Ten veterinary ambulances were also deployed by the Collectorate to ensure that bird rescue operations ensued without much delay.
In addition to that, 40 volunteer organisations also joined the cause, and their members have been tirelessly working for the last two days.
Between January 14 and 15, the volunteers of Jivdaya Charitable Trust, an animal help centre, have reportedly treated close to 945 injured birds, including endangered species like rump vultures, cranes and barn owls.
Another non-profit organisation, Namo Namah had received over 500 injured birds, of which a large percentage included kites and pigeons.
Besides bird rescue and rehabilitation operations, the responsibility of raising awareness about the perils of kite strings to birds amidst people was undertaken by Shree Cultural Foundation, an animal welfare organisation in the city.
You may also like: How One Man Is Single-Handedly Making Ahmedabad’s Kite Festival Safer
“Several of our vans went around the city, holding awareness programmes in schools and societies about the damage that kite strings can cause birds. We also taught them how to attend injured birds and call for help,” said Mukesh Bhati, the founder of the NGO.
We salute their selfless commitment and drive to fight for the feathered beings and hope the initiative raises more awareness amidst the citizens.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)