Abu Dhabi: In a quiet Abu Dhabi neighbourhood around Khalifa Street, pigeons are lured by feed scattered on the pavement. In the hot afternoon sun, the food is a welcome sight for them and they fly down in droves. But they are unaware of the four men lurking around, waiting to ensnare them in nets and take them away in cages.
These men allegedly lay a net for the birds, and wait for a number of them to collect in the area. They then capture these birds with the net, put them in cages after freeing them and drive away in a white van.
Madhu Malini, 30, a resident in the area, said she had seen this happening twice, and was concerned about what was happening to the birds.
"I love animals and I was upset at the birds being taken away in this manner. These men hurt the pigeons, especially as many of their bodies get ensnared in the net and their wings break. They should be stopped, especially if they are not licensed by the government," Malini said.
A number of shop owners in the area confirmed having seen the men in action, but were unable to inform Gulf News of their identities.
One man said that it looked like the men, who appeared to be of Asian origin, waited for a large number of birds to start feeding before they captured them in a net.
Most people expressed concern at what was being done to the birds.
When Gulf News contacted a pest control company in the city that claims to rid residents of problem with pigeons, a spokesman said they only trapped pigeons using anti-bird nets and spikes. He explained that using such nets and spikes prevented pigeons from alighting on surfaces, which eventually drove them away from the place.
He declined to say how many clients they dealt with in a month but stressed: "We do not kill the pigeons or trap them. We just drive them away."
An owner of a textile shop in the area, said: "We were sure the men must have come from the municipality because we didn't think ordinary people would be allowed to trap so many pigeons at one go and take them away. So we didn't ask any questions."
When contacted, officials at Abu Dhabi Municipality informed Gulf News that the matter did not fall under their jurisdiction.
Further inquiries revealed that the Centre of Waste Management (CWM) sometimes deals with the disposal of animals which have been reported as pests.
A spokesperson at the centre said that it was standard practice to use anti-bird nets or spikes to drive away birds which were being troublesome.
"We believe different pest control companies pursue different options to drive away pigeons which are being a problem to residents. But of course, it is not right to cage them or poison them with chemicals. It is best to use techniques that do not harm the birds," he said.
He explained that if people complained about birds being a menace, the CWM would first try to remove nests from trees and ledges in the area in order to drive the birds away in the most humane manner possible. He also added that he was not aware of pigeons being too much of a problem in the city. "However, I advise that people not encourage them by providing food and water in areas where they are a menace."
When told about the people who were trapping the pigeons in cages, the spokesman added that he was not aware of the practice but he conjectured that the men may have been privately capturing the birds for the purposes of hunting.
Have you noticed people trapping pigeons in your neighbourhood? Did you report the matter to the authorities? Are you concerned for the birds?