On World Sparrow Day, we had caught up with Niharika Rajput, a bright young artist/entrepreneur who is using her passion and art for spreading the message of bird conservation through her initiative ‘Paper Chirrups’. On the occasion of World Migratory Bird Day, we share her journey off the beaten path and what inspires her, in her own words. Read on !
“Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark” – Rabindranath Tagore
Birds are intriguingly referred to as God’s messengers as they traverse all the five elements that constitute life: Water, Earth, Air, Fire and Space, literally and in mythological metaphors. They traverse the length and breadth of this planet without having to acquire a passport or visa. Nationality doesn’t define their colour, race or character, whether it be the tiny Humming birds flying from Alaska to Mexico or the Black-necked cranes flying from Tibet to Ladakh, they all become bearers of diverse nationalities.
My love for the winged species is not recent, I’ve had a deep admiration for birds and wildlife in general since I was young. Growing up, life caught on to me and I didn’t realize when I stopped observing them, until I saw a flock of 10 to 12 Red Billed Blue Magpies in Himachal Pradesh. The idea of doing something creative always made me feel very comfortable. At the time, I was struggling to find the subject I connected best with to build my pieces. After my sighting of the Magpies, I was certain that Birds will be my focus. However, it didn’t end there. That was just the beginning.
The more I delved into it the more I learned about what was happening to them. Climate change, loss of habitat, hunting, poisoning, illegal trade to name a few, really opened up my eyes to the plight of birds. So I started using Art as my channel of communication. With the support of many conservationists and nature centres, I have been successful in conducting Art for Wildlife Conservation projects in India and all over the world. From Delhi to Ladakh to British Columbia my focus has been various species of birds.
I’ve conducted workshops with almost 1500 children, men and women through my projects which tend to be educational, entail discussions, hand building activities, bird watching trips and introduction to Bird Guides. These workshops are a step towards getting people excited about the birds found in their region and help train them to be ‘bird sleuths’ and ‘citizen scientists’.
“From being a farmer’s best friend for protecting the crops against pests and insects, to helping in cross pollination and proving to be true custodians of the environment by cleaning up most human waste, birds are capable of doing it all”.
I have always believed that the natural world has the most magnificent and sophisticated mechanisms. Every creature big or small has a significant role to play in the ecosystem and in our survival. From times immemorial birds have played a significant role in preserving and balancing various ecosystems. From being a farmer’s best friend for protecting the crops against pests and insects, to helping in cross pollination and proving to be true custodians of the environment by cleaning up most human waste, birds are capable of doing it all.
However some of these chirrups are rather feeble and perishable. For example, the humble Sparrow (also the state bird of Delhi) holds great significance in our lives. They have always nested in our homes, helped study Earth’s magnetic fields and are great indicators of climate change. Modern infrastructure lacking the curves and crevices, change in climate, habitat loss and lack of adequate food sources are some of the many reasons why the House Sparrow is on a constant decline.
We should work together to keep the natural world alive, whether it be birds or our oceans or our forests. They need us the most now, to fight the battle of survival for them. Choosing this path has its ups and downs but the cause also motivates you to keep at it because the eventual result is always very fulfilling.
To read more about her projects, you can visit the ‘Campaigns’ section of her website.