A ban on feeding pigeons at the Republic Square has sparked public outrage after numerous birds died of apparent starvation.
Several people have expressed strong disapproval on social media of the housing ministry’s decision to impose the ban last Wednesday (April 15).
“Stop brutality against pigeons, Feed the pigeons,” tweeted one Maldivian.
— Luke (@Lucasjalyl) April 19, 2015
Hundreds of children and adults gather at the square every afternoon to feed raw rice to the pigeons.
However, entry to the square has now been restricted by a fence and the housing ministry has erected boards prohibiting pigeon feeding.
The housing ministry says feeding the pigeons causes damage to the grass, newly planted for an upcoming celebrations to mark the golden jubilee of independence.
Nearby buildings also appeared dirty due to pigeon droppings, the ministry said.
Local media reported yesterday that several starved pigeons pecked at tourists and passers-by.
According to newspaper Haveeru, the pigeons are dependant on humans for food and some are now too weak to fly.
Hundreds of pigeons stood on the fence while several more were crushed by vehicles while trying to cross the road.
The article of haveeru on starving pigeons touched me so much just went to jumhooree maidhan with my daughter to feed the pigeons.
— Aslam (@AslamAslamtey) April 19, 2015
“Arrest me for feeding the pigeons,” tweeted former environment minister Mohamed Aslam.
Former footballer Ismail Zariyand also tweeted a picture of him feeding the pigeons in defiance of the ban.
Feeding pigeons now pic.twitter.com/lcFuZH2RRI — Ismail Zariyand (@zariyand) April 20, 2015
The square now remains empty except for a few starved and dead pigeons lying in the park’s corners.
The ministry will provide “alternative/more ideal locations” for pigeon feeding, tweeted housing minister Dr Mohamed Muizzu on Thursday.
However, the ministry is yet to announce the new location.
The ban comes amid renovations of public spaces in the capital in preparation of the 50th anniversary celebrations, including repairing the water fountain at the square.