Gone are the Bulbuls, Mynas, Parakeets, Doves and Woodpeckers from Lahore. Pigeons you can find either in cages or in the mosques of Old Lahore. Crows spot the trees and skies. Somewhere high above them, when you lie on the grassy grounds you see likes of the Black Kite. Like vanishing stars, dwindling trees and disappearing sky, the birds too have stopped visiting this city. But a mere article is not enough to convey to you the predicaments of all the birds who are angered at the lack of hospitality of this city, and it’s pollution.
My concern are the large eyesores, the Black Kite.
Dadis and Nanis used to tell children about the Black Kite which took new born babies away. Newly married women would fear the scavengers that tore away gold earrings from ears of a rich Bibi. Young men were discouraged from their outdoor endeavors with stories of these demons that gathered in hoards to attack a man sleeping in an open field. 2000’s kids don’t hear stories of such sort. They are not haunted by the same demons as we were. Is it technology? Generational gap? Maybe. It has more to do with a lost point of reference.
Black Kites do not soar the skies any more, for an old granny to remind you of their evil.
Their population has dwindled, according to an article published in Science Letters in May 2015. The reason? To find out, let’s visit the Toll Plaza on Ravi when you enter Lahore.
Often travellers on a long journey like to give ‘Sadqa’. To help them in this cause, the meat vendors on Ravi Bridge come to rescue. The large open expanse of a dried-out Ravi harbours the dying scavenger population of Pakistan. The Black Kite is at the top of that population, since we have successfully pushed vultures to extinction. Their doom too is in sight, thanks to the rising meat prices and the drive to sustain profit.
Vendors buy meat from Baqarmarket which they feed these birds. The payment of Sadqa for years now has generated livelihood for the meat vendors who stand at the Ravi Bridge. However, now even an ounce of meat is too expensive to throw to mere scavengers. Thus the vendors have increased their profits by substituting meat with blood soaked foam. As these vendors throw the blood soaked foams to the Kites, disillusioned by the red color and the rustic smell of blood, Kites swoop down to catch the ‘meat’ flung from the Ravi Bridge.
As for what happens to them afterwards, the drying pits of Ravi knows better.
It is not well to-do to pin the blame on the meat vendors alone, or to prop them up as the murderers of nature. We must educate people in the dual caring of human and animal ourselves and by a two-fold advise. Firstly, to check the meat before letting the vendors fling it to the Kites. And secondly, to pay slightly higher prices for the meat. Though an additional twenty or thirty will do no harm to our pockets, it might save a bird’s throat being clogged with foam.