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21 Mar 2019, Edition - 1346, Thursday

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Coimbatore

Malabar Whistling-thrush falls prey to plastic menace

D.Radhakrishnan

Its been about 17 years since the Nilgiris declared a war on plastics. However,a great deal of effort on the part of the administration and awareness programmes of a varied kind by both officials and those in the non governmental sector,notwithstanding,the menace caused by plastics continues to be a source of concern.

While their impact on the environment and wild animals is now well known ,not many are aware that death due to accidental ingestion of plastics, is a major problem among birds living in these hills. This situation seems to be more acute in built up regions which abut wooded areas, where rubbish is either thrown out or let to pile-up in the open.

Birds are attracted to these rubbish heaps not so much drawn to the organic refuse, but rather to the insects which in their turn are attracted to the putrefying matter. Unfortunately over the years a few avian species appear to have adapted themselves to feeding upon the junk-food found among these piles of litter.

Noted ornithologist P.J.Vasanthan ,on Thursday came upon a dead Malabar Whistling-thrush, also popularly known as the ‘Idle Schoolboy’ or the ‘Whistling Schoolboy’ on account of it’s aimless rambling whistle, near Bedford in Coonoor. Speaking to the Covai Post ,he said that the bird appeared to be in its prime and there were no visible marks of any injury pointing to a road-kill.

However on dissecting it, a piece of plastic material possibly accidentally ingested, was found sticking in its gullet along with the remains of what appeared as junk food.

Stating that it did not seem to be a stray incident for the birds of the Nilgiris, Dr.Vasanthan said that even those that are insectivores, have been observed to feed on junk food.He added that it was a grim reminder against the indiscriminate use of plastics and a casus belli for better waste management.

Further feeding birds, however noble it may seem, is a practice that has to be avoided, for it not only makes the winged creatures lazy and less competitive, but also exposes them to other hazards connected with ingestion of unnatural foodstuff.

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