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Glass-Coated Kite String a Horror for Birds

Written by PETA | November 7, 2008

Earlier this year, I was driving along the crowded streets of Hyderabad in India, near one of the Mahatma Gandhi shrines, when I saw something I’d never seen before that almost flipped my lid. I was there to launch the Indian version of PETA’s kids’ book, 50 Awesome Things Kids Can Do to Save Animals, and I knew instantly that kids had to get involved in the atrocity that was unfolding right before my eyes.

It was a few days into the annual kite-flying contest, which Hyderabad is known for, and kitemakers were squatting at every curb, spinning colored kite string. However, the string was being coated in spun glass, much as you would coat a stick with cotton candy. This makes the string razor-sharp and able to rip through an opponent’s kite in a millisecond.

Errant kites, set free to entangle in phone poles and trees, rip birds to shreds. So I set off with Jayasimha, one of the great movers and shakers in PETA India, to a bird sanctuary where we watched the volunteers gearing up for the coming horror: a grueling three-day festival in which hundreds of vultures, parrots, crows, and other birds were going to be wounded, many of them fatally.

PETA India started a petition asking kids never to buy glass-coated string, called “Manja.” And here is the first demonstration against it in Hyderabad:




Written by Ingrid E. Newkirk

Commenting is closed.
  • Raj says:

    I have not seen many dissenting comments on this blog. This is a dissenting comment so I am not holding out too much hope that this will get published. PETA has done some great work globally that has lead to awareness of animal conditions from households to farming to industry. I especially admire PETA creative use of celebrities to increase awareness. That being said I am not too sure about this campaign against manja. Here is my gripe with this campaign The perils of manja to birds are unproven. Kiting season in India is a few months premonsoon very short span of time. The kite line manja included takes up very little space in the sky. Also manja is a small fraction of the overall line generally taking up about 110th of the line near the kite. With this the sheer laws of probability dictate that there is a very tiny chance of a bird getting entangled in manja. There is a bigger chance of a bird hitting a plane. Will PETA campaign against air travel on that probability? Kite flying and kite contests provide employment to thousands and recreation to millions of Indians rich and poor alike. If this campaign succeeds millions of people will lose a job and a source of entertainment. What will be the consequences? The bored kids will try and find solace in some other activity perhaps something unwholesome like watching TV rather than socializing with other kids over a kite. The poor craftsmen who make manja saddhi and the reels will be without a source of livelihood. One of them might be cutting the glass panel of your window to rob your house if you cut his manja. What would serve PETA’s purpose better is to back up Jia’s fancy photo with solid numbers and less fancy photos and evidence of birds hit by manja. I don’t seem to find any substantial backing of this claim on PETA India’s site. What would be a good next step is to find alternative means that can render manja less damaging say by helping the craftsmen use a reflective fiber to make the line more visible. However if this campaign is just a shallow extension of celebrities’ PR blitz to stay in the news I would urge them to stick to entertainment and quit playing with the lives and livelihood of hardworking everyday people.

  • B. Williams says:

    I have a question that might seem ignorant to people here but I’m gonna ask it anyways. Why did you dress up like a cut up bird to protest these strings? Why not place those nice clean signs all over the area and set up a booth to educate people about this problem. This demonstration to me seems overthetop. I would have to imagine that it turned more people away than it caused people to be interested. This is merely a thought I wanted to put forward. I agree that these strings seem ridiculous but I have never been to a kite flying competition. I would not allow a child of mine to use one. That would be more for the fear of the child being hurt than any birds. I also wouldn’t want to see birds dropping all around a supposed fun maybe family event.

  • Laura says:

    Not only are these strings extremely dangerous to innocent wildlife but also the children and adults that use them! A razor sharp flying string? Not smart.

  • Crystal says:

    Thank you so much Ingrid! I love the pic. I never heard of covering a kite string in glass. How sad to turn some thing that should be fun and care free into something ugly.

  • brooklyn says:

    por birdys im only in gr.3 and already made a difference for animals becase last year i ws gonna go to the circus i told my teacher wat thet do to them and we did not go

  • Rainbow Warrior says:

    PETA India my alltime favorite!

  • Rachel A says:

    You make a wonderful point about the string. I hope the kids will make the right choice not to use that string because not only is it a risk to unfortunate birds it could end up hurting humans or companion animals if discarded carelessly.

  • SASHA says:

    What a great picture. Good work INDIA. I’ve learned something newand now I will never buy that string and will warn others alsoif they sell it here in the U.S.A.

  • Aneliese says:

    I really hope that kids won’t use that horrible string for kites. It will also be harmful for animals if its left lying on the ground where any animal could eat it. Petition signed.