Hyderabad: Members of Hyderabad Birding Pals joined hands with Animal Warriors Conservation Society and Deccan Birders and retrieved more than a tractor-load of discarded plastic fishing nets, several empty liquor bottles and other material from Osman Sagar surroundings.
The lake has been a favourite destination for birders not only from the city but also from other places for the variety of birds it houses. Osman Sagar is on the must-visit list of places now that it is home to powerful and fast-flying Peregrine Falcon, whose sighting is treated as a trophy by many birders. The medium-sized bird is known for its spectacular stoop to catch its prey.
Birders in the recent past have rescued a significant number of birds that got stuck in fishing nets. For instance, Sriram Reddy, member of Hyderabad Birding Pals and a frequent visitor to Osman Sagar, rescued a Greater Spotted Eagle, whose right wing was injured, on February 19. “It probably got stuck in the fishing net,” he said. After that incident, he posted an SOS announcing a clean-up drive at Osman Sagar.
According to Raavi Phani Krishna, HBP member, many fishermen abandon their nets in the lake. They are purchased from Begum Bazar at Rs 50 a kg, and typically a fishing net weighs about 25 to 30 kg. The fishermen use this for a few days and discard the damaged ones.
Responding to the clean-up plea, about 100 members came to the site. The litter was not burnt and was given to Gandipet Welfare Society for managing it. The land was also not ploughed and the litter was picked up. At the clean-up, M Srinivas, a HBP member, along with Animal Warriors, rescued a lark stuck in the net and released it. A video clip has been posted on social media platforms.
Stating that a ban on fishing at the lake was not the solution, he said that instead, efforts should be made to recover discarded nets. Not just birds, cattle too are getting stuck in the nets. In the words of Mahesh Kumar, a resident near Osman Sagar, the unclaimed fishing nets are making leveling and cultivation difficult for farmers. The area is known for vegetables and horticulture crops cultivation. Now, some farmers too are coming forward to clean the lake surroundings, he said.
“The area is huge and at least 1,000 members are needed to clean the area,” said Krishna. Fishing will resume after six to eight months and this window should be used to find alternatives to cheap quality fishing nets, he said.
Similar clean up drives were also conducted at Ameenpur Lake, which is smaller compared to Osman Sagar Lake, said I Kalyan.
There is a cavalcade of birders from the city and far off places. “Birds will not visit or stay at the same place if their setting is disturbed. Peregrine Falcon has attracted attention of a lot of birders. It is still there because its natural setting has bot been disturbed,” said Hari Adepu, another HBP member, about the care HBP members have taken at the site.