A First-Of-Its-Kind Magazine On Environment Which Is For Nature, Of Nature, By Us (RNI No.: UPBIL/2016/66220)

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Birds should fly free & not be made to stay in cages

TreeTake is a monthly bilingual colour magazine on environment that is fully committed to serving Mother Nature with well researched, interactive and engaging articles and lots of interesting info.

Birds should fly free & not be made to stay in cages

Flying is to birds what walking is to humans – it is natural and important for their wellbeing. This alone is reason enough to leave birds to fly free in the sky and refuse to cage them. But there are other reasons, too...

Birds should fly free & not be made to stay in cages


We Asked: Do you think it is about time the concerned authorities took the caging of birds seriously and ensured that action be taken against those who keep caged birds at home? Is not there also a need for a total ban on bird markets like Nakhas? What precise steps/actions would you suggest to combat this issue?

In the serene morning light, a caged bird sings not of joy but of a plea for freedom. It's high time that authorities and individuals alike recognize the injustice inherent in caging birds. This isn't just about enforcing rules, it's about nurturing compassion and respect for the lives that share our world. Their needs from flying to socializing – cannot be met within the bars of a cage. Bird markets like Nakhas not only fuel the caging industry but also contribute to the decline of wild bird populations. These markets often operate with little regard for the well-being of the creatures they sell, treating them as commodities rather than sentient beings. So, what actions can be taken? First, there should be a total ban on the sale of caged birds. This move would significantly disrupt the supply chain and discourage people from keeping birds as caged pets. Second, awareness campaigns are essential to educate the public about the plight of caged birds and the importance of conserving wildlife. Third, Legislation plays a crucial role too. Strong laws against the caging of birds, coupled with strict enforcement, can deter potential violators. Rehabilitation centers for previously caged birds would also be a step in the right direction, providing these animals with a chance to live more natural lives. The freedom of birds is not just their right but a testament to our humanity. As compassionate beings, it's our responsibility to ensure that the skies remain filled with birds flying freely, not caged behind bars.- Nandita Sehgal, animal rights activist

पक्षियों का व्यापार या उन्हें पिंजरे में रखना एक अत्यंत ही अनावश्यक और अनैतिक कार्य है। पक्षियों का व्यापार करने व उन्हें पालने पर प्रतिबंध लगाने के लिए योजनाबद्ध तरीके से प्रयास शुरू कर दिये जाने चाहिए। सभी भारतीय पक्षी पहले ही वन्यजीव संरक्षण अधिनियम, 1972 में संरक्षित हैं और दूसरे देशों के संकटग्रस्त पक्षियों के व्यापार को रोकने के लिए भी ‘‘संकटग्रस्त प्रजातियों के अंतरराष्ट्रीय व्यापार पर एक अंतरराष्ट्रीय अभिसमय‘‘ (ब्प्ज्म्) भी है और साथ ही पशु क्रूरता अधिनियम, 1960 के अनुसार भी सभी प्राणियों को रहने व प्राकृतिक कार्य करने के लिए पर्याप्त जगह दिया जाना चाहिए अतः उन्हें पिंजरे में रखना उनके उड़ान भरने के नैसर्गिक अधिकार का उल्लंघन भी है। इसलिए पक्षियों का व्यापार करने, उन्हें पालने व उनका इस्तेमाल करके पैसे कमाने पर रोक लगाने के लिए सबसे पहले पक्षियों के बाजार जैसे लखनऊ में नक्खास व पेट शॉप में किसी भी तरह के पक्षी का विक्रय बंद होना चाहिए। इसके बाद जिन लोगों के घरों में ऐसे पक्षी हैं, उनके लिए दिशानिर्देश जारी करके कम उम्र के पक्षियों को विभाग को सौंपने व अधिक उम्र के पक्षियों, जो उड़ने में असमर्थ हैं, उनको बड़े पिंजरों में ही रखने आदि की अपील करना चाहिए और प्राप्त पक्षियों के पुनर्वास के लिए हर जिले में पुनर्वास केंद्र भी बनाए जाएं जिनके क्रियान्वयन के लिए स्थानीय एनिमल रेस्क्यूअर्स की मदद लिया जा सकता है। ज्यादा उम्र के पक्षियों को वापस अकेले छोड़ना पर उनके जीवित बचने की संभावनाएं बहुत कम हो जाती हैं अतः उन्हें उनके बचे जीवन को जीने के लिए उचित दिशानिर्देशों के साथ उनके वर्तमान मालिकों के पास रहने दिया जा सकता है। इन आदेशों का पालन न करने वालों पर कानूनी कार्यवाही भी होना चाहिए। और साथ ही इस विषय पर जनजागरूकता के लिए वन विभाग द्वारा वृहद स्तर पर जागरूकता कार्यक्रम हर स्कूल, कालेज, कार्यालय, फैक्ट्री आदि जगहों पर निरंतर कई माह तक चलाकर इस प्रथा का उन्मूलन करना चाहिए। पक्षी जब आजादी के साथ अपने पर्यावास में रहते है जब वे खुशहाली से चहचहाते हैं लेकिन जब उन्हें पिंजरे में बंद कर दिया जाता है तो वे अवसाद के शिकार होकर चिड़चिड़े हो जाते हैं। किसी भी प्राणी का कार्य सिर्फ अस्तित्व में बने रहना नहीं बल्कि अपना नैसर्गिक क्रियाकलाप करना है। उन्हें उनका नैसर्गिक अधिकार मिले ये बहुत आवश्यक है और इसलिए इस विषय पर तत्काल बड़े कदम उठाए जाने की आवश्यकता है। -अभिषेक दुबे,पर्यावरण एवं पशु सशक्तिकरण कार्यकर्ता, मानद प्रतिनिधि - भारतीय जीव-जंतु कल्याण बोर्ड,अध्यक्ष - नेचर क्लब फाउंडेशन, गोण्डा (उ.प्र.)

Flying is to birds what walking is to humans – it is natural and important for their wellbeing. This alone is reason enough to leave birds to fly free in the sky and refuse to cage them. But there are other reasons, too. Capturing many species is illegal under the Wild Life (Protection) Act of 1972, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species restricts the trade of foreign birds. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960, makes it illegal to keep any animal in a cage that does not “permit the animal a reasonable opportunity for movement”, and for a bird, that includes flight. Experts have stated that more than 60% of birds that are caught in the wild die in transit. And largely thanks to the bird trade, Ghana has lost up to 99% of its grey parrots. Birds also become depressed when confined to cages – many pull out their feathers in frustration. Recently, motivated by these troubling statistics and acting on a tip from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, Lucknow police rescued hundreds of ring-necked, plum-headed, and Alexandrine parakeets as well as munia and silverbills from the Nakhaas bird market in Lucknow. Previously, Delhi police worked with PETA India to rescue thousands of adult and baby parakeets – including ring-necked and plum-headed parakeets – hundreds of munias, two hill mynas, and a pigeon from illegal traders at the Kabutar market. You can help birds, too, by refusing to buy them. And if you have already brought birds into your home, consult an animal protection group as to the best course of action for protecting their wellbeing. -Natasha Ittyerah, PETA India

If I am correct, you are talking about the cage bird trade, not the wild bird trade. Let us make this apparent from the beginning! According to the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, trade in all Indian wild birds is totally prohibited, so there is no question of supporting it. For example, keeping a rose-ringed parakeet or red munia is prohibited. Now coming to domesticated bird trade: According to the WPA, trade in 11 bird species that breed in captivity is allowed, with strict rules on cage size, veterinary care, etc. Some of the species are budgerigars, lovebirds, zebra finches, domestic pigeons, domestic ducks, captive-bred domestic quails, and so on. Personally, I do not like to keep any bird in a cage, but some people like to keep them. I cannot impose my choices and values on them. As long as they are not dealing with any banned species, I do not have a right to interfere in their choice. Dogs, cats, rabbits, pigeons, and white mice are also kept as pets, so should we object or tell the person to keep neither a dog nor a cat? Yes, the authorities should totally prohibit the sale, caging, or trading of all Indian wild birds, as per the WPA. But if a person has a domestic-bred bird (lovebirds, budgerigars, pigeons, zebra finches) the authorities have no right to harass the person. At the very least, we can convince her or him to enjoy the sight of free birds, instead of keeping birds in cages. Good environmental education is required, not harassment. It is stupid of so-called animal rights activists to release lovebirds or zebra finches, as they do not survive in the wild and become the prey of crows and cats. This is cruelty. Many domesticated birds breed very well, sometimes too well, as in the case of budgerigars, so they perhaps do not suffer trauma in large cages. I think more dogs face trauma if kept in a small apartment with little chance of exercise. Dogs like to run, so how many people take care of their requirements of freedom to run while keeping them in small rooms? Ask these so-called kind people who go gung-ho of someone keeping budgerigars, but do not keep their own pets properly, or do not feed them the diet that dogs or cats require. Is this not cruelty? Traditional bird keepers know how to keep their birds healthy, as it is their business. No customer will purchase a sick bird. A healthy bird sells, not a sick bird. Yes, we can make rules to have regular health checks from vets. This is a policy decision. At one time, before 1970, Nakkas and Qaiserganj in Lucknow were notorious for the sale of wild-caught birds, but these markets have almost gone or gone underground. The authorities should regularly catch the culprits if they are still selling wild-caught birds. But the authorities, or so-called animal rights activists, have no right to punish traders who are selling domestic pigeons, chickens, budgerigars, or lovebirds. As I said earlier, it is my choice not to like this trade, but as long as it is not breaking the law, I do not have the right to take the law into my own hands. Tomorrow, some vegetarians can come up with a ban on the sale of all meat (incidentally, nearly 87% of Indians eat meat/fish or eggs) so will the government agree? Follow the Indian rules and keep your personal sentiments at home! -Dr Asad Rahmani, an ornithologist and conservationist; former director of BNHS and now the scientific adviser to The Corbett Foundation as well as the governing council member of Wetlands International, South Asia

The caging of birds at home/ hotels/recreational centres should be banned by enforcing Wildlife Act and those who keep birds should be penalized. The behavioural patterns of birds will be altered; the change in food also alters the physiology and decreases the natural immunity and high vulnerability to pathogens; the loss of function (disability) of the organ /organ system, particularly relating to flight. I am in favour of closing the bird markets. Creation of awareness among the public on the stresses of caged birds, taking help from students to locate the places where birds are marketed and homes where birds are kept in cages for enabling law enforcement authority to take action. The forest departments should be proactive in strictly enforcing the Wildlife Protection Act. The local governments also should ensure that the birds are not marketed or caged. -Prof CR Babu, Professor Emeritus, Centre for Environmental Management of Degraded Ecosystems (CEMDE), University of Delhi

The Wild Life Protection Act, 1972, bans the capture and trade of hundreds of varieties of indigenous birds. Meanwhile, The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, makes it illegal to keep an animal in a way that prevents “a reasonable opportunity for movement”. For a bird, that means flight. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora also restricts the trafficking of birds. It is cruel to imprison birds, be they budgies, parrots, or pigeons. Parrots pluck out their feathers from stress and boredom when caged and all imprisoned birds live much shorter lives than one's allowed their freedom. Life in captivity is often a death sentence for birds, who may suffer from malnutrition, an improper environment, loneliness, and the stress of confinement. Birds are meant to fly and be with others of their own kind in a natural environment. Confinement causes birds to have temper tantrums and mood swings. Yes, there is a need for a total ban on bird markets like Nakhas. Awareness programmes should be conducted for the public, and involve bird traders, and concerned authorities to stop the torture of birds. In Nakhas, different types of bird species are caged and sold, e.g., parakeets, munias, pigeons, silverbills birds, etc. Birds are kept in congested cage with unhygienic conditions so it is very stressful for birds which often make them aggressive and self-destructive by pulling out their feathers, mutilating their skin, bobbing their heads incessantly, and shaking or even collapsing from anxiety. Environmentalists and news reporters can expose this type of bird market so that birds can be rescued and freed with the help of concerned authorities. TRAFFIC, which operates as a division of WWF-India, works closely with the national and state governments and various other agencies to help study, monitor, and influence action to curb illegal wildlife trade. Other enforcement agencies like police, customs, railway police, border police, Army, etc. can also take up the task of countering IWT (illegal wildlife trade) across the country and its borders, however in a limited capacity. The Nakhas bird market in Lucknow is where over 800 birds were rescued by the police. Wildlife SOS with the help of state and local authorities can help in curbing the bird trade issue. Birds, if kept as pets, can be rescued by Wildlife SOS, which then can be handed over to the forest department. If they are injured, they can be treated and once deemed fit, released into the wild. The pet trade is generally set up in urban localities as a bird market. NGOs in collaboration with the forest department, environment enthusiasts can aware public on a large scale. The collaborative effort of all the stakeholders can work to conduct raids to rescue trafficked animals. -Prof Amita Kanaujia, in charge/coordinator, Institute for Wildlife Sciences, ONGC Centre for Advanced Studies (OCAS), University of Lucknow

Yes, I totally agree, it is more than high time now that this practice comes to an end.  Illegal wildlife trade has been a very serious and major issue globally threatening several species, making them subject to cruelty and extinction.  We now need a specific plan of action against those who are responsible for this and this includes both the buyer and supplier equally, as with today's time of internet boom and information available in the remotest place on earth it is still seen that people are into this trade and exchange for easy money and cruel practice of keeping wild birds in captivity. Any wild bird native or nonnative is born to be wild and free. But due to the demand and supply chain, they are illegally hunted, bread, sold, exchanged, and kept. In this whole process right from start to the end they are always at different kinds of risk. Right from the potential of being injured, infected, or causing injury and infection to other birds it is all that can happen. The ways in which these birds are poached or transported are equally cruel and distressing from being stuffed in small cages which are always overcrowded and always have mortalities in the end. Another challenge that is faced is the expertise available to address these birds legally, medically, and physically. Such bird markets are actually illegal and unethical. Yes, a ban is needed for native species and a regulation for exotic species. Just like rituals and blind faiths like sati which is now officially illegal even animal laws need to be changed, revised, amended, and new once introduced wherever required. We as a country are now looked upon globally and a country is not just of people but also of animals and other natural and man-made resources. So, yes, a total ban on native wildlife and strict regulations on exotic wildlife is the need and requirement of the hour. We need a proper understanding of this issue first which will require more awareness and information followed by necessary infrastructure and actions from time to time. Capacity building of all the enforcement agencies like forest department, police, administrative wings, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, DRI, Animal Husbandry, Customs, and all other agencies and departments who have and who can have jurisdiction on this.  At the same time collaborative work with NGOs and NGIs who have expertise and common interest in this subject. -Adv. Pawan S. Sharma, Founder & President, RAWW - (Resqink Association for Wildlife Welfare) Honorary Wildlife Warden - Thane, Maharashtra Forest Department.

I consider the caging of birds a criminal act. It is inhuman, anti-nature, and anti-environment. Bird markets should not be permitted. The state government should take firm measures to discourage caging of birds, and trading in birds. Some alarming reports suggest that exotic species of birds are being targeted by hotels that claim to serve bird meat at exorbitant prices. Like human beings, birds too have basic emotions. Angry birds in distress go crazy and disturb nature. Birds experience fear, anger, hunger, and even boredom if confined to cages. Depriving the feathered creatures of their right to fly free and high, amounts to denial of opportunities for engaging in natural activities and behaviour like flying or looking for food and even engaging in social interaction with birds of their own flocks. Caged birds suffer from stress which stunts their growth. Several species of birds have higher levels of intelligence, for which they need unbridled freedom and free space. Bird watchers say caged birds are afflicted with a range of health issues from obesity, muscle atrophy and behavioral complications. Caging also affects wild bird population growth. Trapping and trading of birds is not only unethical, unnatural, and illegal but also threatens ecological equilibrium. Therefore, state government agencies should undertake programmes to sensitise people against caging birds. All creatures on earth have a right to live freely.- Brij Khandelwal, journalist and convenor of RiverConnect campaign in Agra, aiming at saving the Yamuna

Topic of the month: Do you think it is about time the authorities took the matter of garbage burning and other environment-polluting issues into their hands and took active action against the culprits instead of passing the buck or turning a blind eye? There are many who know but won't comply with the anti-pollution norms like garbage burning including plastic (even safai workers can be seen doing that, as well as workers of many institutions and shopping places) and other air pollution-causing activities. With winters setting in, the government shouldn’t leave us to our ‘destiny’, but must take stern action against defaulters? You may send your views (either in Hindi or English) in 300 words to [email protected]. Please also attach a colour photo of yourself.

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