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|February 2, 2001||
The bird cage
Left to me and to the Government of India no Indian birds would be in cages. This is not only illegal, but destroys the environment and depletes forests. Every being on this planet -- except humans -- is here for a specific purpose. For instance, sparrows and other small birds eat insects that would otherwise destroy the land; humming birds pollinate and help spread flowers; the hornbill is the only bird that can spread the bargat (banyan) tree by eating and spreading its seeds. As birds spread seeds, forests remain intact. For every parakeet or munia that is kept in a tiny cage in a house, there is one tree less in India.
All these birds are brought illegally by trains. The station-masters and loaders are paid to look the other way while poachers who have attacked the hills and forests of the Northeast, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar bring in thousands of little birds packed in small boxes to cities. Sixty per cent die on the way due to broken wings and legs, thirst or fright.
Many people keep lovebirds, budgerigars and cockatoos and their explanation for not releasing them is that they will die as they are foreign birds. For such selfish and greedy people, here are some tips on how to keep them:
Maneka Gandhi is Union minister of state for statistics and programme implementation.
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