Sunday, August 9

Counting crows and exterminating monkeys

Who would worry about crows? They may be a nuisance to some, but with the urban sprawl increasing in cities we have seen a reduction in many of the avian species, crows being no exception.

However in Tokyo people have been obsessed about bringing down the crow population. They were convinced that crows are a nuisance and they needed to be exterminated. So successful has been this campaign that at one point they claimed that 85 percent of the crows had been exterminated using traps.

But they underestimated the intelligence of the birds. They are now back with a vengeance. Older crows have learn to avoid traps and suburban crows, are commuting into the city at mealtimes.

And the costs for extermination - $5.3 million in extermination costs—about $50 per dead crow. WOW ! That's more than double the daily wage of a beneficiary of the NREGA.

Many times cities often indulge in such hair-brained policies when it comes to animals. In Delhi it has been an obsession with monkeys, Banglore is concerned about stray dogs and Mumbai wants to catch every leopard.

Often times there are bigger urban problems and challenges facing our cities, but we pretend that somehow if we get ourselves rid of the “animal” menace we will lead better lives. The media is no less – no sooner is ONE person attacked by a monkey or a dog in Delhi they paint a picture of how we are in DANGER (as if it is a nuclear attack about to happen) of our civilization disappearing.

Remember the animals are just confused. They cannot make head or tail of what is happening around them. One moment there is a forest where they live and the next moment we are telling them to disappear in the name of progress. Much like the American Indian in this story of Tintin whose land is taken away from him.

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