Paper clip: Chinese ‘manja’ and birds in Bengaluru

The Chinese manja is becoming a death trap for birds that get entangled in them.

By: Express News Service | Published: May 12, 2015 2:54 am

Published in Indian BIRDS,
April 2015
Authors:  Sharat Babu, S Subramanya, Mohammed Dilwar

A data-driven study of sharp kite strings injuring or killing birds in Bengaluru quantifies the problem by most vulnerable size and species, most dangerous months and most dangerous neighbourhoods for birds

The paper studies the effect of so-called Chinese ‘manja’ or nylon kite strings on Bangalore’s birdlife. During competitive kite flying, especially during the festival of Makara Sankranti, enthusiasts attempt to sever the kite strings of opponents and manja is seen as more effective than the traditional cotton strings. But these severed strings end up on trees, electricity poles and tall buildings, and become a death trap for birds that get entangled in them.

Records kept by the Greater Bangalore Municipal Corporation show 268 birds were rescued between November 2010 and June 2014, some with injuries that caused them to eventually die.

The data showed a strong correlation between the size of a bird and its chances of getting entangled in manja strings — the strings were particularly bad for larger birds, with black kites and crows being the most vulnerable. Birds smaller in size than the white throated kingfisher, which is slightly smaller than a common myna, were not found entangled in manja strings. This, the paper says, could be either because smaller birds were able to see these strings better and avoided the strings, or because people failed to notice smaller birds trapped in these strings.

The authors also found that though kites were mostly flown during summer, birds were found trapped in manja strings throughout the year. This, the study says, could be because Chinese manja strings are not easily bio-degradable and remained in the environment for longer.

While advocating a ban on Chinese manja across the country, the authors say over 90 per cent of the birds were rescued from trees when they were most likely flying into the canopy.

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