This Kerala tourism institute rehabilitated house sparrows after the floods last year. Here's how       

The nests were built out of scraps for house sparrows across Marayoor in Idukki District right after the Kerala floods
Kerala Institute of Tourism and Travel Studies built homes for house sparrows post the 2018 floods
Kerala Institute of Tourism and Travel Studies built homes for house sparrows post the 2018 floods

We're all well aware of the Kerala floods that claimed the lives of thousands in the state. The damage caused by the floods was even worse - numerous people were left homeless and without food. All of us prayed for them and did as much as we could to help the state come back to normal life due to the massive calamity. While most of us played our part in ensuring the well-being of all the people in the state not many of us thought about the lives of animals at stake. But there were a few organisations that looked into animal welfare and one specific initiative seemed to stand out. Kerala Institute of Tourism and Travel Studies initiated the Back To Nest Initiative that actually went on to build over 400 nests across Marayoor for house sparrows.

Being human: A house sparrow is strongly associated with human habitation, and can live in urban or rural settings

Why sparrows? Apparently KITTS has a special relationship with sparrows. R Babu, an Assistant Professor at KITTS says, "A lot of our institutes were also affected by the flood and the trees that surrounded our campus in Thiruvananthapuram were uprooted damaging the nests on their branches. As an institute we wanted to bring back all those birds that took shelter on our campus. The whole idea was to provide living spaces for birds and our little hand made sparrow-homes turned out to be a tourist spot for all kinds of birds and sometimes even monkeys."

This gesture started off when the institute spotted raw materials that remained untouched at their construction site during disaster control last year. "After the flood when we started all reconstruction work we saw raw materials that were set aside to be thrown away, we decided to make use of those and build nests for the sparrows. We reached out to an expert to understand if the raw materials we wanted to use would suffice and provide the comfort. Once we got a go-ahead we went on to build 60 nests.Our work didn't go in vain. In a span of three  months all 60 of our nests were occupied," Babu explains. 

What started off as a small gesture within the institution premises went on to quickly grow into a conservatory project in five zones in an entire district - Oorvasal, Meladi, Marayoor Gramam, Pattikkad and Noorvedu-Marayoor town. "We built over 240 nests across these places. These villages are eco-tourist spots and we decided to take a bigger step towards this initiative by educating the community towards conservation and conducting a  'Learn Live and Lead' programme for them," he says. "These birds love to live in the midst of human beings. The number of house sparrows in the area was massive and providing a home for them was a priority. We decided to talk to the community to open up their homes for these birds.The people were open to the idea and now we are making plans to  distribute two nests each to 2,000 households in the region," adds Babu.

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