Spike in injuries to birds on account of kite-flying


PfA Wildlife Hospital rescued and treated 177 birds injured by manja thread in 2020, compared to 102 in 2019

Animal rescuers in the city have been working overtime to rescue birds from the glass powder coated nylon manja threads used to fly kites. While kite-flying is part of the Sankranti tradition, many birds have sustained severe injuries, some of them fatal.

Over the last fortnight, People for Animals (PfA) Wildlife Hospital has been receiving nearly eight calls for rescue of birds entangled in manja threads.

However, animal activists said that while there has been a definite spike in recent weeks, last year was bad for birds in the city. According to Col. Dr. Nawaz Shariff, General Manager and Chief Veterinarian, PfA Wildlife Hospital, Bengaluru, bird injuries due to manja threads was an all-year problem in 2020, unlike earlier years.

“Usually, we get these bird injury cases in the run-up to Sankranti and maybe, till a month after that. But in 2020, given that there was a lockdown, children were at home with most their parents also working from home. More families seem to have taken up kite-flying. Bird injury cases shot up by nearly 80% compared to the previous year,” he said.

PfA Wildlife Hospital, Bengaluru rescued and treated 102 birds injured due to manja threads in the city in 2019, but the number of cases shot up to 177 in 2020.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has banned the use, manufacture, sale, storage and purchase of glass-coated manja or nylon threads for flying kites. However, animal rights activists rue the lack of implementation of the NGT’s directions. Manja thread that used to be earlier imported from China, is now manufactured locally and sold freely, sources said.

PfA wrote to the State government in 2020 asking for enforcement, but with all the focus on COVID-19, there was little action on the ground. Black kites, Brahminy kites, barn owls, jungle and house crows and pelicans are most commonly affected.

“Apart from these birds, there will be other smaller birds that are injured, but because of their size, they are incapable of drawing people’s attention. They mostly die of strangulation and starvation in the trees,” Dr. Nawaz Shariff said, adding that these days, injured birds are being found even at a height of 50 feet, which poses a big challenge during rescue efforts.

Most of the birds suffer fractures that are tough to fix. “Birds have very thin and fragile bones. Many times, we don’t even recover all pieces of the broken bone from the rescue site. There is no technology to regrow them. Most birds suffer for life. We just set right their wings, putting an intra-medullary pin and try to restore the lost elasticity of their wings. But they can’t fly like before. They just hop on the floor and will need care in captivity for the rest of their life,” he added. “Kite-flyers should be aware of the dangers they pose to birds and consciously opt for cotton thread.”

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