Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Sparrow Award 2012

I didn’t think that there was so much green space in the busy, financial concrete jungle of Mumbai. The venue of the Sparrow Awards was so refreshing in Dharavi. Maharastra Nature Park sprawls over 37 acres; it’s hard to believe that it was once a dump yard. It’s the home of 10,000 plus species of trees and a haven for wild animals and migratory birds. The constant, cheerful chirping of the birds is evidence of the green Shangri-La that pops out of the city.

I’ve seen sparrows on and off in the backyard but a few years ago, I wouldn’t have imagined that my tiny, fluttering friends would be disappearing in front of my eyes. Most of us today know the excitement of a little kid watching a sparrow in the garden. It’s a horrid thought that future generations may not experience this pleasure. That’s where Mr. Mohammed Dilawar and the Nature Forever Society, based in Mumbai, are making a difference in all our lives. Nature Forever Society strives to help the sparrows. They make nest boxes for sparrows to live in – the same type that we’ve installed in school – and recently launched the “The Common Bird Monitoring” program. Hopefully this program will not only help sparrows get back into our homes, but also other birds. I’m sure that Salim Ali, the birdman of India, would be so proud to see India’s ornithology studies come this far.

Now coming to the awardees, including myself, of the 2012 Sparrow Award:

To me, a vulture has always been a creature that sits in zoos, watching us humans speculatively. This is because they are listed as “Critically Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), on the brink of extinction in the wild and if something is not done about it soon, I’ll have no hope of looking up at the sky and spotting a vulture. Thanks to Mr. Dilsher Kahn, a spark of hope has been lit. His work with the vultures of Madya Pradesh is a remarkable initiative, aiming to make their diets diclofenac free and conduct long term monitoring thereafter.

How many times have we spotted a tree and just walked by? The Green Umbrella Team from Mumbai actually endeavors to save fichus trees growing in construction zones and old buildings. It would be nice if the team spread their wings to other cities and save a few more branches.

Finally, the Shri Mahatma Gandhi Ashramsala in Gujarat’s program of having each student grow up with a “pet” tree is such a good idea. In fact, I think that implementing this sort of a program in my school in Bangalore – Canadian International School – would make a real difference in our garden city.

It’s comforting to know that there are ordinary people out there, like me, that work hard to make a difference in the environment. Everyone has their own day jobs, their hands full with normal, daily life, yet they still make an effort to create some time solely to help the environment.

I’d really love to meet the Nature Forever Society team again and perhaps even work with them in the future!