The world is changing at a rapid pace right now. However, this change centres around only one being, that is the human being. All the other species are considered expendable if they don’t serve our purpose. Nevertheless, we are now becoming aware of the fact that life on this planet is interconnected. What goes around comes around. If we are harming the environment then the same harm is also coming back to us. The recent changes in climate bear a testament to the same fact. One of the things that particularly symbolizes our impact on the environment is the plight of birds like sparrows.
Sparrow: The bird that we all know
The sparrow is everywhere. From Delhi to Santiago and London to Sydney, it can be found just about anywhere. Unlike crows which tend to make people uncomfortable, the sparrow has come to be a part of the human civilization, and humans have co-existed with them for more than 10,000 years. How many sparrows are there in the world today is a question that rarely comes up at the endangered species organization meet-ups, but it would be an interesting answer nevertheless. Because we have grown accustomed to the sparrows and take them for granted; there are some fascinating facts about these constantly encountered yet barely known birds. Another reason and a far depressing one is that there have been reports coming in recently about the declining population of sparrows from certain regions around the planet. Let’s have a look.
Brief relationship history of sparrows
Excavations and diggings have found sparrow remains from the oldest of human societies. Every ancient civilization – from Egypt to Mesopotamia and Greece acknowledges that sparrows are indeed present in many artistic expressions. Sparrows have also been good indicators of a healthy eco-system and people have, throughout history, thought of sparrows as auspicious. How many Sparrows are there in the world today is a tricky question, but that they have always been a part of human society is a given. However, this seemingly respectful co-existence has slightly eroded in recent years. Ever since the advent of the industrial revolution, every species of birds has suffered to some effect. It is stated that by 2100, up to 14% of all the bird species here with us today will be gone and sparrow numbers will take a drastic hit. An initiation on how to save sparrows must be taken soon.
Case Studies: India and England
Sparrows are very common in India but people are noticing something amiss. The sparrows chirping outside have lessened in numbers. Many city dwellers state that the urban landscape has destroyed the sparrow’s habitat- sparrows build nests in holes, roofs, and corners of many houses, but now with the new minimalist kind of architecture, they aren’t able to do so. Another reason why have sparrows disappeared is the heavy usage of pesticides in agriculture. The grain that a sparrow relishes is contaminated. In England, where statistics are more on hand, state that there has been a gradual decline in the population of the sparrow even in the countryside. Perhaps agricultural practices are at fault, but the situation is so dire that a few sub species are even listed as endangered. How many sparrows are there in the world today can be gauged by the dismal findings in such two countries.
How many sparrows are there in the world today? Why are they so few?
So why have sparrows disappeared exactly? The major cause in urban areas is the encroachment of infrastructure which not only destroys the flora that these sparrows live in, it also robs them of loss of vegetation and a lack of insects as a result of everything. Insecticides and pesticides do not help either.
Other factors such as vehicle emissions, electromagnetic radiations from cellphones that aren’t eco-friendly, and all the pollutants from industrial sites only add to the hardship the sparrows have to endure. Even in rural areas, silos and pesticides have reduced the numbers. A sorry reading from England states that the numbers are in stark decline in Bristol, Edinburgh, and Belfast. Perhaps it does not matter how many sparrows are there in the world today. What matters is how are we going to go about cutting our emissions and wastes so that the whole environment is good enough for the birds to return back?
Sparrows aren’t the only one
More than 150 bird species have become extinct in the last 500 years. Now, every eighth bird is in danger. 1211 species (12 percent of the total) are threatened with extinction. Of these, 179 species are critically endangered, 344 are endangered and 688 are vulnerable.
80 percent of the threatened species have fewer than 10,000 individuals. High proportions of threatened species are found among albatrosses (95 percent), cranes (60 percent), parrots (29 percent), pheasants (26 percent) and pigeons (23 percent). Habitat destruction, driven by unsustainability forestry and agriculture, is the biggest cause of bird decline, impacting 86 percent of threatened birds.
Nearly, 60 species classified as critically endangered may become extinct due to irreversible factors, such as natural disasters. Most threatened birds are found in the tropics. Eight of the 10 countries with maximum threatened birds are also among the 10 nations where species endemic to only one country are found.
Most birds (more than 80 percent) are found in continents. However, the majority of extinction has been on islands (88 percent). 43 percent of Arica’s important bird areas have no legal recognition. One-third of threatened species worldwide await conservation. 24 percent of threatened species have begun to gain from conservation, with benefits to four percent regarded as significant. Investment for the conservation of birds is over 20mtimes higher in developed countries than developing nations.
The Sparrow has long been considered a barometer of the environment they co-habit with human beings. Moreover, the aspect of loosing this bird will surely hit hard not only the environmentalists but also the general public. How to save sparrows should be a matter of concern to everyone. If for nothing else than for the fact that a looming environmental disaster could be on the way as has been observed throughout history. When birds change their migration routes, it is a sign of harsh climatic changes. Also, for a fact that the bird has been a part of our society since civilizations began- just as the dog or cow has come to represent human settlement, so has the sparrow. Furthermore, all the environmental hazards that are affecting these birds is surely affecting us on some level as well. The sparrow perhaps isn’t really everywhere. And it is indeed sad.