Birdbrains combat birdhits

Published: Thursday 30 June 1994

What a flap: while autorities< (Credit: T C Malhotra)AFTER months of dithering, the ministry of environment and forests (MEF) has shot down the proposal of the National Airports Authority (NAA) to deploy falcons to curb the bird menace around airports in India.

In India, on an average about 230 bird-hits on aircraft are reported every year -- among the highest in the world. Early this year, the NAA was taken up by the idea of hiring the services of falconers to check bird populations around the major airports under its jurisdiction. It had even floated a tender inviting quotations for maintaining trained hunting birds at select airfields. However, MEF objected to this on the grounds that the falconers would use the opportunity to smuggle the bird, which is listed as an endangered species under the Indian Wildlife Act, to West Asia and Europe.

Dejected NAA officials have subsequently taken up an experimental project, using a machine imitating gunshot sounds, to scare birds away at the Indira Gandhi International Airport at New Delhi. Some officials say that the plan is already a non-starter because it only scares away smaller birds like pigeons. It does not solve the problem because, according to an NAA study, 73 per cent of all bird-hits in India involve heavier birds like vultures, kites and crows.

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