Avoid Chinese manja this Sankranti: Rescuers | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: Pankaj R revisited his hobby of flying kites during the lockdown last year. But the 20-year-old Sanjaynagar resident panicked after a bird got entangled in his kite’s thread. However, his group was quick to help the injured bird. “We tended to it and it recovered in two days. My cousin educated me about Chinese manja that is harmful for birds. Flying kite is a childhood hobby that I don’t plan to give up, but I will opt for cotton thread now on,” says Pankaj.
However, not all bird injuries end on a positive note like this one, nor do all kite flyers realise what their choice of thread could do to birds around them.
In fact, city-based PfA (People for Animals) Wildlife Rescue & Conservation Centre has observed over 72% rise in the number of bird rescues following entanglement in Chinese manja in 2020 (177 rescues) when compared to 2019 (102 rescues). Chinese manjas come with glass/metal coating, because of which they are very sharp.
Sneha Salgame, assistant manager of communications, PfA told TOI that they fear this year too the numbers might rise around Sankranti as people will mostly remain at home because of the pandemic and take up kite flying.
“We do not want anyone to give up on the tradition of kite flying, but aim to create awareness about how dangerous Chinese manja is to wildlife,” she says, adding that authorities are not executing the ban on Chinese manja.
Chinese manja, which was banned by the National Green Tribunal in 2017, is made of synthetic material/ yarn and has a coating that can cut the skin.
Sneha says kites, crows, owls and several other species get injured between January and March due to the manja. “In fact, we also rescued a pelican, a migratory bird, which was entangled in a manja during the pandemic,” she adds.
Mohan K, a city-based animal rescuer, said on average they get three-four bird rescue calls, and sometime even call to save monkeys, injured because of Chinese manja. “The numbers spike in these months as the weather turns favourable for kite flying. Unfortunately, the ban is not implemented in the city as authorities do not focus on wildlife safety,” he says.
Keerthan Vignesh RP, manager at city-based Charlie’s Animal Rescue Centre (CARE), said all year round, they get 10-15 bird rescue calls just from Malleshwaram, Rajajinagar and Yeshwantpur. “The number spikes between 60 to 70 calls per day this time of the year,” he adds.
Incidentally, Keerthan is a passionate kite flyer himself. “My mother taught me to fly kites. We use all kinds of threads but none of them is as dangerous as the synthetic or Chinese manja. If a bird gets stuck in a cotton thread, it can free itself with a few movements, but synthetic threads are long-lasting and do not break easily,” he says, adding that children these days are not aware of the art of preparing cotton thread for kites, and instead rely on Chinese manja as it is easily available.
“Whenever I see kids with kites, I make it a point to educate them about the thread they must use,” he adds.

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Sagar Biswas

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