Having tossed meat for six consecutive days to lure black kites away from the Republic Day fly-past, the Forest Department will conduct an analysis of the extent to which the process worked, along with considering possible long-term mitigation measures against bird strikes, according to officials.
In a process that began January 21 and ended Friday, meat was tossed every day between 11.30 am and 12.30 pm from 13 open spaces in the vicinity of the Kartavya Path. “These locations were within 5 km of the Kartavya Path… These included the cemetery at ITO, the Air Force Golf Course, the premises of the National Rail Museum, and the Maulana Azad Medical College,” said Abhinav Kumar, wildlife officer in the city’s Forest Department.
This is the second consecutive year that meat is being tossed in a joint exercise by the Forest Department and the Indian Air Force (IAF) in a bid to keep black kites away from the flight path during the fly-past.
Last year, the exercise was carried out from 11 locations but the activity was spread out over three weeks. “This year, we did continuous feeding for nearly a week. Some new sites were also added this year. An analysis will be done to see how effective it was,” Kumar said.
Two control sites were also earmarked – the Ghazipur landfill and an open ground on Barakhamba Road – locations where black kites already have access to food or are being fed. “The control sites are where the density of kites is usually on the higher side because food is available. Birds were counted at the control sites, but meat was not tossed, with the intention of determining what the density of kites is when meat is not tossed. Based on that, you can calculate the surge that is seen when you artificially toss meat,” Kumar said.
Fifteen teams were formed this time, and each had five to six people – a representative of the Forest Department and IAF each, a researcher from the Forest Department, and one or two volunteers from colleges. Birds were counted at the location thrice — before the exercise began, during the meat-tossing, and after. No external experts were part of the process this year, while experts from the Wildlife Institute of India were involved in the exercise last year.
“We are hoping to look for long-term mitigation measures, of how we can lure the kites away permanently, as much as possible, from this area. We want to conduct more research into their habits, nesting sites, population density and feeding patterns,” he added.
Sumit Dookia, wildlife biologist and assistant professor at Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, who was part of a committee involved in the exercise last year, said, “This is a temporary solution where we are just trying to engage some birds…This could signal to other birds as well that food is available.” He further said, “Delhi is unique because of the high numbers of these kites, and this is because of the garbage problem and the open disposal of meat…they need to address the garbage problem.”