In an ad shot with a Rajasthan backdrop, Richard Gere plays a shining white knight who helps a girl free caged birds by buying them from a roadside seller with his credit card. But such moves can actually make things worse for the birds, say experts.
Dr Vijay Kumar, the veterinarian at the Charity Bird Hospital says, ‘‘ Many times, people give us birds they’ve bought from the street because they can’t take care of them. If they are released into the wild, the birds can’t fend for themselves.’’
Things are particularly bad for budgriegars, also called lovebirds, which are originally from Australia.’’
A large cage in the hospital has almost 50 of the tiny birds. The vet says, ‘‘Recently, one man bought 300 lovebirds near Jama Masjid out of pity for them. After that, he didn’t know what to do with them, and we had to work with a number of groups to have them safely released.’’
Buying the birds is a major problem as it encourages them to get more birds.
A spokesperson for the group Wildlife SOS says, ‘‘This is a big problem. People want to help, but don’t know how to.
The bird seller doesn’t care about the birds after they’re sold. As long as he’s making a sale, he will cage more and more birds.’’ Kumar also says, ‘‘For every single live bird sold, at least six or seven die in the capture and handling stage. As long as people buy budgies, for whatever reason, the seller’s business thrives. Birds which are released may die, be eaten by stray animals, or even get caught again. And the sellers will be the only beneficiaries.’’
If people want to help, he said, then they should try and stop the sale of birds.