Pakistan launches sparrow count as bird’s population dwindles
Pakistan launches sparrow count as bird’s population dwindles
Anadolu Agency

KARACHI: Wildlife authorities in Pakistan launched a campaign on Sunday to count the number of sparrows in the country’s largest city of Karachi, where the human-friendly bird is fast disappearing from the skies.  

The campaign will target specific urban and suburban hotspots of local sparrows in the metropolis, home to 20 million people.

Joined by bird lovers, and divided into several groups, wildlife workers took positions at potential sparrow hotspots, taking pictures and filming the birds’ movements.

The results of the bird count will be announced on March 20, Javed Mahar, a conservator at the wildlife department of southern Sindh province, for which Karachi serves as capital, told Anadolu.

Along with major South Asian cities like Mumbai, Kolkata, Dhaka and Lahore, Karachi offers a mix of glossy skyscrapers, bustling shopping centers, shanty slums and massive traffic jams.

Once natural habitats for birds, the metropolis has lost its precious wildlife not only through the ravages of time, but also because of increasing human influence.

Absence of sparrows means poor air quality

According to Muhammad Moazzam Khan, technical adviser for the Worldwide Fund for Nature’s (WWF) Pakistan chapter, the sparrow population has dwindled by between 60% and 70% in Karachi over the past two decades.

Alteration of habitats, which is a direct result of unplanned urbanization and pollution, has badly affected the population of urban birds, mainly house sparrows, in major South Asian cities in the past two decades.

Aside from the country’s commercial capital Karachi, second-largest city Lahore, northwestern city of Peshawar, garrison city of Rawalpindi and textile hub Faisalabad are among the most polluted cities in the region.

Lahore and Karachi, along with India’s capital New Delhi, commercial capital Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka, has topped the daily rankings of the world’s most polluted cities this winter owing primarily to escalating industrialization and unplanned urbanization in recent decades.

Instead of sparrows, human-friendly birds, who also serve as indicators of air quality; bird species such as kites, crows and mynas have occupied the skies of these cities.

“Presence of sparrows in large numbers means good air quality. If they leave a place, that simply means the quality of the environment has alarmingly declined there,” Khan said.