The festival of rebirth in nature has become a festival of death for thousands of birds. Makar Sankranti, the traditional Indian harvest festival in January, is an occasion for celebration throughout the country.
In north and western India, particularly in Rajasthan and Gujarat, the festivities have traditionally included kite flying.
But with an increasing number of kites in the air and the competitive spirit in kite fighting, what is supposed to be a celebration of rebirth in nature has turned these areas into killing fields for local and migratory bird populations.
The growing use of glass-coated and in particular non biodegradable Chinese manjha (kite string) – made of metallic/nylon yarn with an abrasive coat of crushed glass glued onto it – has made things worse. Birds cannot see this fine string while flying and thousands of them get tangled up and injured or killed during the festival each year. Also, after the kite flying is done, coils of this sharp manjha are found hanging on trees and lampposts: a hazard for birds and people alike.
That’s where we’ve stepped in. Working with local organisations in Gujarat and Rajasthan over the last few years, we’ve conducted bird safety presentations and talks in schools and colleges, street theatre performances, signature campaigns and pledges, and even the mock funeral procession of a bird!
In past years we have been able to:
- Rescue and treat over 7000 injured birds
- Reach out to over 1,50,000 people through street plays, signature campaigns, peace rallies etc
- Reach out to over 25,000 schoolchildren in 10 schools across Gujarat and Rajasthan
- Liaise with the district administration in Jaipur to ban the sale of Chinese manjha, and have a ban put on flying kites in designated times (6 to 8am and 5 to 7pm).
This year, we need your support. We will form rescue groups to help injured birds and formulate ‘special squads’ to assist official agencies in enforcing the ban on Chinese manjha. The total cost of the campaign is 3.45 Lakhs.
Save birds from Kite strings
Undertake sensitization programs in schools, colleges, residential complexes, tourist places
Formulate a team of volunteers who will rescue injured birds and assist enforcement agencies in raiding vendor selling banned Chinese manjha
Engage with media personnel to disseminate the message of conservation through their medium, District level media workshop
Collaterals (Signage, Posters and handouts) to sensitize locals
Our larger goals are to initiate sensitisation camps in schools and colleges, and reach out to young minds through video screenings, presentations and live talk shows. Nukkad nataks (street plays), signature campaigns, posters in strategic locations, peace rallies etc will help create mass awareness on the issue. Plus, we’ll use the local print and TV media as force multipliers to reach a larger audience.
Help us raise awareness against the use of Chinese manjha. Help us treat and rescue injured birds.