Saturday, June 05, 2010

HOMING INSTINCT

HOMING INSTINCT
Prof Ataaz and his students rescue about 50 birds and snakes driven out of Lalbagh due to rampant tree felling
SAHANA CHARAN


Most green activists, often inadvertently, tend to miss the wood for the trees. Metro Rail work and indiscriminate construction activities around Lalbagh have depleted tree cover, but have affected birds and snakes living in the park even more.
The number of animals venturing out into the open or into nearby homes has increased of late. According to Prof Ataaz, Professor of Zoology at Al-Ameen College and an animal rescuer, his team has rescued at least 50-60 creatures, mostly snake and birds in that area in the last two months.
His team has rescued a horned owl, many barn owls, an injured barbet, three baby cobras, innumerable rat snakes, vine snakes and a banded racer, a trinket snake and a bronzeback tree snake, not very common in these parts.
GIVING THEM A HOME
The snakes were mostly found outside Lalbagh gate, or crossing the road near west gate. Some snakes had ventured into homes near Basavangudi and surrounding areas. “Three baby cobras had ventured into a water treatment plant just behind Lalbagh gate and one of them had a grievous problem and could not open its hood because of contact with some chemicals. It died a few days later. We released the other two baby cobras in the forests near Bannerghatta. Except for the cobras, all the other snakes that we rescued were non-poisonous,” Prof Ataaz said.
The team also found an injured Barbet, which had in fact ventured into the premises of Al-Ameen on the other side of the road from Lalbagh gardens. “After rehabilitating the bird, it was released,” Ataaz added. The Horned Owl, a rare bird, was found in a construction site near Double Road. “A builder called us to say that there was a Horned Owl in his premises and if we could take it away. This is a rare kind of owl, not seen very often in these parts. We took it and handed it over to the authorities at Bannerghatta National Park. They were more than happy to take it,” Ataaz said.
LASTING DAMAGE
The Zoology professor is worried about the plans to modify Lalbagh Gardens. “If they are going to have musical fountains and laser show, which will invite a lot of people even in the late evening, more creatures will be affected, especially the nocturnal ones. If cobras come out and they happen to bite someone, there is no facility for emergency service in the park,” he says.
Prof Ataaz added that young ones of eagles, koels, owls etc are dislodged from their nests due to indiscriminate tree felling and they consequently become prone to dehydration, starvation and attack by dogs and so on.

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