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Raising objections to the improper feeding of migratory birds at Nariman Point and off the coast of Mumbai, Pawan Sharma, the honorary wildlife warden for Thane district, has written to the Mangrove Cell to ensure the practice was stopped. “The act of feeding may be in good faith but the feed (namkeen) which is being fed is harmful for the birds and thus it is important for us to intervene and initiate necessary actions by informing and making the feeders aware about it and stop such feeding,” reads the complaint.
According to Sharma, several people feed seagulls namkeen at Nariman Point in the morning hours. “For the last two weeks, a group of people bring two to three bags of gathiya and feed the seagulls at Nariman Point. This is not in their diet and is thus harmful to them,” he said. Just off the coast as well, on ferry services to Mandwa, tourists and others commonly feed the seagulls fried snacks. The letter mentions that the food not only hampers the birds’ health but also manipulates their instincts and food preferences.
According to Dr Rina Dev, an avian specialist, “Gathiya is rich in oil and fat and their (seagulls) body is not used to it. This diet will cause them gastric issues and also fatty liver syndrome. They are migratory birds and in the long term, this will affect their flying ability. Anyway people should not feed wild animals as it makes them lose their wild instincts and makes them look at humans as source of food. Wild animals should remain wild.”