It is bizarre how human beings exploit religious sentiments for personal gain, even at the cost of harming nature. Some age old traditions of Dussehra are a disquieting example. In many parts of Telangana and some parts of Andhra Pradesh, the once fun-filled venture involving a spot of bird-watching amongst the lush green trees has now become a death trap for the charming little Blue Jay.
Humane Society International/India has successfully urged Telangana officials to crack down on the cruel capture and trade of the Palapitta (the Indian roller or blue jay). Poachers and traders take advantage of the popular belief that the sighting of Palapittas during Dusshera is a lucky omen. Poachers typically capture the birds a month before the festival, tie their legs with binding wire, trim their wings and stick them with glue to prevent them from flying away. The birds are kept captive in small cages in temples for public viewing on the day of Dusshera. While many devotees sometimes pay a fee to see them, some also buy these birds for thousands of rupees and release them during Dussehra in the mistaken belief that they will be showered with blessings for their act of benevolence. What they do not know is that these birds die on being released, as they cannot fly anymore. They are either eaten up by birds of prey or die of hunger and thirst as they can neither fend nor defend themselves. Many birds also die in captivity.
HSI / India, in collaboration with the State Forest Department in Telangana has initiated an extensive awareness drive, which includes empowering everyone with a helpline to report cases of cruelty in the region. Similarly, The Launch Pad, a training company based out of Visakhapatnam, has launched an awareness campaign in Visakhapatnam in partnership with HSI. Sangitaa Sehgall, the founder of The Launch Pad, has taken up the responsibility of sensitizing young minds at local schools and has addressed 800 students of Bethany School and Delhi Public School, Lawson’s Bay, before Dussehra holidays. Every child who participated signed a petition on a colour picture postcard, to be sent to Nara Chandrababu Naidu, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.
Saving the Blue Jay is everyone’s responsibility, more so because it is the state bird of Andhra Pradesh.
Any person who comes across such an act of abuse or cruelty can report to 7674922044 or message [email protected] to 56677.