Posts Tagged ‘rescue’

Bear Rescue Centre, Bannerghatta, 230319

April 4, 2019

On the butterfly group that I belong to, one member told us about the Bear Rescue Centre (BRC) at Bannerghatta, and asked for volunteers.It was then decided that several of us would visit the Centre and then decide on who would be able to volunteer. Since the Centre personnel wanted only 15 participants in each group, two groups of 15 members each were constituted. One group visited on Saturday, the 16th of March, and the other on Saturday, the 23rd of March. I was with the second group, and my anticipation was not disappointed.

The visit to the Centre, which is one of ten such facilities run by Wildlife SOS (an NGO started by Kartick Satyanarayan and Geeta Seshamani) started with all of us gathering in the Bannerghatta Zoo parking lot, from where Chiranjib and Prajwal came and picked us up, and took us through the scrub forest of the Bannerghatta National Park to the Centre. Set amidst bamboo thickets and grassland, the low buildings of the Centre blend well into the landscape.

Chiranjib gave us an introduction to the various bear species found in the world, and then narrowed down to the species of bears found in India, and the 77 bears that have been rescued and are now at the centre. A slide presentation showed us some disturbing images of bears that were ill-treated by those who captured them and sold them to entertain others by dancing; other bears were caught in snares for the wildlife trade. Chinese medicine requires the gall bladders of bears, and several bears have been rescued from traps. “We had more than double the number of bears here,” points out Chiranjib.”We have managed to stop the practice of dancing bears, and so we now get only bears that have been injured in the forest. Now, as the bears age and die, the numbers are growing less.” Indeed, as Dr Arun strikingly pointed out, the goal is not to need such a Centre at all…but that is not likely to happen in the near future. The bears are left loose in an area of about 74 sq. km, coming in to their enclosures for food; some, said Chiranjib with a smile, go first to one enclosure, eat the food there quickly, and go to the next, looking for second helpings!

Bears residing in the Pachavati block at BBRC//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Bears playing with the equipment built for them, at the Panchavati enclosure. Photo courtesy: BRC, Wildlife SOS

As we then went to look at the enclosure where food is given to the bears, more facts emerged.

Bears with simple injuries are treated at the rescue spots and allowed back into the forests; but those that have been badly hurt, or have had their diurnal rhythms disturbed (though they are nocturnal animals, they are made to be active and walk through the day by their captors),have to be put in the rescue centres for the rest of their lives, as they can no longer survive in the wild. As Dr Arun, the resident veterinarian who let us look in detail at the Operation Theatre and talked about the difficulties of treating wild and distressed animals, mentioned, the Centre is virtually an “old age home” for bears, where they will live until they die. Hence, the bears have to be given a diet that somewhat approximates what they would eat in the wild, with fruits and honey along with a ragi mixture. Many animals, used as dancing bears, arrive with their molars broken or forcibly extracted, and many also have cataracts, and most commonly, tuberculosis, from frequent contact with human beings who might be diseased and malnourished themselves.

We were then shown the “squeeze cage”, where the animal is put with as little difficulty to it as possible, in an upright position where it can be tranquillized if needed, and treated. Bears in the wild are creatures of uncertain temperament, and this characteristic might predominate in a stressed or trapped bear.

To allow them to forage as naturally as possible, there is a Termite Raising Unit, where termite hills are raised for the bears to raid as they would in the wild.

Termite Raising Unit at BBRC (2)
Photo courtesy: BRC, Wildlife SOS

The kitchen tour was fascinating, as we saw the various millets and grains that go into the bears’ daily diet. Sri Alauddin, when we visited at 11.30am, had already started cooking the ragi porridge for the bear’s evening meal, which would be cooled and given to them at 4.30pm. The diet for each bear is approximately 8 kilos of ragi porridge twice a day, along with two eggs, and approximately 2 kilos of fruits and enrichment treats.

Bears ragi porridge 2 a day, 020419 BRC Bnrghta.
The ragi porridge in the shallow steel containers, that the bears eat twice a day.Photo courtesy: BRC, Wildlife SOS

Honey and milk are added to the porridge, and sometimes they have to be added in front of the bears, to convince them, like one does with naughty children, that they are getting what they want! While we were in the bear cage building, several of the bears were waiting impatiently for their lunch, and one kept banging at the bars of the cage from the outside enclosure, demanding to be let in and fed! Both Chiranjib and Prajwal showed a great affection for these shambling animals as they described how each bear had a different personality and type of behaviour.

We were then taken to the Jambhava area (the other enclosures are Kishkinda,Panchavati,Chitrakuta, and Dr.GKV Block) and from the rooftop, we had a view of several of the bears foraging for the fruits (watermelons that day) that the staff left for them, in the open. It was delightful to see several Chital stags and does also coming for the fruit…and several birds coming to share the feast, as well!

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Tawny-bellied Babbler feasting on the fruit. Pic: Deepa Mohan

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Tailless Line Blue. Pic: Deepa Mohan

Several volunteers come regularly, and help the staff make the exercise equipment that the bears use to climb up and down on, and play with. Old, torn fire hoses are woven into rough thick sheets, and balls and sticks are added. These are made again and again in different ways as the bears’ play demolishes them.These are called “enrichment” too, as they do much to improve the quality of the bears’ lives at the Centre. The photo above gives an idea of the equipment.

We also looked at the differences in design between the older and newer bear pens, and found that changes had been made for the greater comfort of both bears and staff. Surely, this is a not well-known form of architecture and design!

Dr Arun, a veterinary surgeon who started with the main centre in Agra 17 years ago, was soon posted to Bannerghatta (which was established in 2005). He has remained here ever since. He talked with utter sincerity about the bears’ plight, without any sentimentality; his words were all the more effective because of this. “We do not want appreciation,” he says, “because we are quite aware of the work we are doing. What we want are volunteers, who will come and help our work in various ways.” The Centre is planning to have children from neighbouring villages come and know more about the mammals that share the forests and fields of Bannerghatta with them. They would like these children to know,not only about the bears, but about the other fauna, and the flora of the area, too, so that they know, and hence care, about the place they live in, and the treasures it holds.

The whole tour was well-planned and conducted, and was very informative, with an articulate Chiranjib and Prajwal filling us in on details, and Karthikeyan documenting the trip on camera.

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Pic: Deepa Mohan

We were not allowed to take photos of the Centre, but could take pictures of the birds and plants that we found interesting.There were quite a few of such plants and trees!

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Bauhinia racemosa. Pic: Deepa Mohan.

The Centre has much to be proud of. Over the years, the dependency on power from the grid or generator has been reduced by the addition of solar panels. Everywhere I found plastic bottles recycled to hold fruits or food, or used in other ways. Trees have been planted, greening the area, but the grassland has been left alone in its natural state, with bamboo and other kinds of grass providing shelter to other wild creatures and birds.

Indeed, we found so much of interest that we did exceed the time schedule and we finally had our lunch at the bus terminus area at about 3pm instead of 1pm as we had thought. Such was the care and affection lavished on the bears, that we joked to the staff that if provided with so much nutritious food along with milk and honey, we wouldn’t mind coming here ourselves in our old age!

We ended the tour with a group photograph taken by Prajwal (I clicked the group too) and returned to the outside world, very impressed with the work that is being done at the Bear Rescue Centre, and determined to work out how we could pitch to help the lot of the unfortunate animals who live there, and the dedicated human beings who try to make their lives as comfortable and forest-like as possible.

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The group on 23rd March. Pic: Deepa Mohan

We were able to do a bit of bird-watching, too. The bird lists

from the Zoo parking lot while we waited to be taken inside, is

here

and from BRC area is

here

*************************************************************

Facts and figures

Questions to Wildlife SOS:

1. How many centres of Wildlife SOS in India?
We operate ten wildlife rehabilitation facilities across India:
 Elephant Conservation & Care Centre, Mathura.
 Elephant Rehabilitation Center, Ban Santour, Haryana.
 Agra Bear Rescue Facility (for Sloth Bears)
 Bannerghatta Bear Rescue Centre, (for Sloth Bears) Bangalore.
 Van Vihar Bear Rescue Facility, (for Sloth Bears) Bhopal.
 Purulia Bear Rescue Centre, (for Sloth Bears) West Bengal.
 Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre, in Junnar, Maharashtra.
 Pahalgam Rescue Centre (for Asiatic Black Bears & Himalayan Brown Bears), J&K.
 Dachigam Rescue Centre (for Asiatic Black Bears & Himalayan Brown Bears), J&K.
 Wildlife Rescue Centre, Haryana.
 Human Primate Conflict Mitigation Centre in Farah, Uttar Pradesh.
2. How many kg of ragi, fruit, milk, etc each day per bear?
The diet for the bears comprise of approx.8 kilos of porridge twice a day along with two eggs
and approx. 2kilos of fruits and enrichments treats.
3. Where does the funding come from?
We are a non-profit organization and are wholly dependent on donations from supporters and
grants for our funding.
Rescuing and caring for animals is always a financial challenge whether it is buying food or
medicines for the animals, treatment costs, field equipment, vehicle fuel and maintenance or
even staff salary. We are a non-profit charity and operate from donations and grants. We
request people to support our efforts by making donations to http://www.wildlifesos.org and by also
becoming monthly donors and sponsoring the care of our rescued and rehabilitated animals.
4. What are the names of all the enclosures?
Panchavati
Chitrakuta
Kishkinda
Dr.GKV Block
Jambhava
5. When was the Bannerghatta Centre started?
The Bannerghatta Bear Rescue Centre was established in 2005.
6. What is the area of the BRC?
The Bannerghatta Bear Rescue Centre is spread over 74 acres.

The schedule of our visit was as follows:

10:10 AM – Starting for the Rescue Center.
10:25 AM – Reaching Rescue Center. Orientation.
10:50 AM – Enclosure tour and feeding.
11:15 AM – Center schedule and Types of Bears.
11:25 AM – OT tour.
11:45 AM – Squeeze cage and Termite Raising Unit.
12:00 PM – Bear Kitchen tour.
12:15 PM – Jambhava Enclosure tour and sighting from top.
12:30 PM – Going back to office area.
12:40 PM – Refreshment and Group photos.
12:50 PM – Sign-off.

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Rescue and Release: Bronzeback Tree Snake, Devarayana Durga State Forest, Tumkur District, 010514

May 5, 2014

When we went to meet Gundappa Master, at Tumkur, he told us that a

BRONZEBACK TREE SNAKE

had also been rescued from a villager’s house. The villager was very scared and worried that it was a venomous snake, and wanted to kill it, so it was taken away for release in the forest.

We only witnessed the release; we did not want to touch the snake as it was already rather distressed.

Gundappa Master opens the bag, after we reached the interior of the Devarayana Durga State Forest, well away from the road:

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He puts it on a tree:

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While giving the snake a little time to calm down, we take our shots:

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Long, slender, smooth-scales.
Head distinctly broader than neck; snout bluntly rounded.
Large eyes have round pupils.
Tail very long, thin and wire-like.
This species has a dark blue tongue.

The snake’s blue eyes mean that it is at the beginning of ecdysis…the process of shedding its old skin. At this time, the reptile’s vision is not good, and it would like to be undisturbed.

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Behavior
Diurnal. Arboreal; inhabits low bushes, thorn trees, indian date palms, and palmyra.
Feeds on frogs, garden lizards, geckos and small birds, even entering thatched houses to feed.
Extremely fast.
Notched sharply defined edges of belly scales help it climb.
Females lay 6-8 long, thin eggs in tree holes and rotting vegetation.
Nervous disposition, if cornered, some will strike repeatedly while expanding forebody to show light blue/white color at lower edge of each scale.

The blue scales showing on the back also show that it is distressed.

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In this shot, the blue scales on the back (that only show when the snake is in distress) are not showing. The snake is definitely calmer.

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Here we are, photographing it while it collects itself:

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The snake then quickly drops to the ground, once again showing the blue scales of distress:

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The snake then slithers off over the rocks, and is gone.

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Both Gundappa Master, and we (Chandu, Gopal, Yash and I) hope our release is a successful one and that this beautiful, non-venomous snake has a long life….

Rescue and Release: The Slender Loris, Devarayana Durga State Forest, Tumkur District, 010514

May 2, 2014

I’ve been lucky enough to spot the

SLENDER LORIS

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at several places in Karnataka: the campus of the Indian Institute of Science, the Ramakrishna Mission Ashram at Shivanahalli, and at Nagavalli village, in Tumkur District.

Yesterday, we got a call from

B V Gundappa ,

affectionately called “Gundappa Sir” or “Gundappa Master” (he teaches in Nagavalli village), who has been caring for these shy, elusive creatures, and raising local awareness about them, so that they are not poached or killed.

Here are some facts about Slender Lorises, which are called “thEvAngu” in Tamizh, and “kAdupApA” (baby of the forest) in Kannada, from the wiki:

The gray slender loris (Loris lydekkerianus) is a species of primate in the family Loridae. It is found in India and Sri Lanka. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests and subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests. It is threatened by habitat loss.

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Despite the slew of studies on their behaviour and ecology in the last decade, they still remain among the least known of all primate species] Like other lorises, they are nocturnal and emerge from their roost cavities only at dusk.

They are mainly insectivorous. In southern India, the nominate race is often found in acacia and tamarind dominated forests or scrubs near cultivations. Males hold larger home ranges than females. They are usually solitary while foraging, and it is rare for them to be seen in pairs or groups. However they may roost in groups of up to 7, that include young of the recent and older litters. Adult males and females have individual home ranges and sleeping group associations are usually composed of a female and her offspring. They communicate with a range of vocalizations and also use urine and scent marking.

Although considered a Least Concern on the IUCN Red List and classified under Schedule I (Part 1) of the Indian Wildlife Act, 1972, the threat to these primates is increasing. Loris is used to make love potions, treat leprosy and eye ailments.Habitat fragmentation is also a threat to the loris population, as well as loss of acacia trees, which is a preferred tree species for the loris.

Well, that’s all the information. We were privileged to be able to see this animal in daylight!

Gundappa Master said that an adult male had been found in the home of a villager in Hebbur, about 11 km from his home. By the time we reached his place, he had rescued the creature and brought it home. It was decided to release the Loris in the heavy-foliage Devarayanadurga State Forest.

We were eager to take a look at the little fellow before we took him to the release area, and Gundappa Sir opened the shoe box in which he’d kept him, ready to be taken on his journey to freedom.

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An arm and a leg show themselves:

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At last, we could see the little primate. He didn’t seem stressed at all.

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Gundappa Sir sets off on the release. The sack contains a Bronzeback Tree Snake, also rescued from a village house, to be released.

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We went to the Devarayana Durga State Forest, and went into the interior area, away from the road. Here, in a rocky clearing, Gundappa Master opened the box again:

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Gundappa Master takes out the little primate on a twig.

Here it is, climbing around on the twig:

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In Tamizh, we say, “thEvAngu mAthiri muzhikkAthEy!” (Don’t stare at me like a Loris!)…now you can understand that!

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Yash (in the pic), Gopal and I took photos. Chandu was content to enjoy the moment.

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Gundappa Sir has been dealing with these animals for many years now, yet treats them with gentleness.

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He shows the animal on the twig; it’s an adult male, about two years old, he says. (I am asking in the video.)

In the video above, you can also see the Loris using its urine to wet its feet. Gundappa Sir said that this was partly territory marking behaviour, and partly to cool its feet. Something else that I learned about this creature!

He puts it on a small bush, first, and it looks around, getting its bearings:

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He finally releases the animal into a tree with plenty of foliage, where it proceeds to promptly hide itself:

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Off it goes:

Shortly after its release, the Kadupapa was hidden in the foliage. A pair of huge eyes looked out at us for a while..and then he was gone, the Baby of the Forest, elusive as ever.

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Here we are, trying to see whether it might be a leopard that is causing so much of alarm calls amongst the Hanuman Langurs around:

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Now we are satisfied (we didn’t see any leopard) and happy!

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Here’s a warm salute to Gundappa Sir and the beautiful animal he works to protect.

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Wildlife rescue…not black-and-white…

January 10, 2012

Quite unusual for me to be off the blog for three days, as I subject myself (and the rest of you!) to the discipline of an entry a day. But it was a full weekend…Saturday morning, to Hessarghatta, getting back only by 3pm and then having visitors…Sunday morning, to Valley School, back at 1pm, and then off to JLR Bannerghatta (where neither mobile phones nor 3G seems to work) to volunteer for a nature trail with 49 students of Vidya Niketan, on an overnight camp. Got back yesterday evening, and was rather tired…and today all the home chores demanded attention, so had to turn down an invitation to go on an overnight visit to Chik Yelchetti for Junglescapes work.

My photographs from Hessarghatta are on my FB album

here

My photos from Valley School are

here

And my photos from the JLR camp are

here

But meanwhile…I’ve been having regular conversations with a very impressive schoolgirl, Anvitha. She often raises very valid questions about wildlife conservation…and our last conservation/rescue conversation went like this:

Anvitha:

” I just wanted to ask you this question which is haunting my mind from many days. When I was coming back from Konark temple, we were passing by a sanctuary. Our auto would have run over a turtle trying to cross the road but fortunately it did not happen. After lifting and seeing it, I was ready to leave it back but the auto driver told that he is gonna keep it along wid other animals he has. I tried to convince him n leave the turtle in so many lakes we came across and even in the sea which was opposite to our guest house but he did not agree. I sometimes feel that the turtle can have a better life by being in the fish tank but at the same time I also feel that it has the right to live in wilderness. Which is correct ? and also do people eat rufous tree pie coz i saw and talked to a family who had caught it.”

My response:

“Regarding the turtle (which was probably an Indian Pond Terrapin)…it is definitely better off in the wild, than in some chlorinated water tank…but then, you really had no control over what the auto driver was going to do. Frankly….I have my doubts…it probably wound up as food for him and his family…and you have to consider that as part of the natural food chain. Anyway, fresh water turtles might die in the salt water of the sea and vice versa, so probably putting it into the sea without knowing exactly which turtle it was might not be a great idea.

Alas, most birds and animals provide a good source of meat and protein for people. We can only try and prevent its happening…very often we have no say in the matter. Once I rescued an injured Pond Heron which a family was eyeing. The bird died in the rescue shelter the next day…I wished I had at least let the family eat a proper meal. So…one has to accept that rescue is not always possible, or even the best thing in the circumstances. Life teaches us some hard lessons sometimes….difficult for a soft heart like yours to accept.”

And her reply:

“thanx for the advice. Actually I told the family to leave the poor bird n they left it once but just when we were returning a small gal from the same family again easily caught the bird and so I thought the bird was used to the family or something like that.”

I do wish there were many more Anvithas around! A child so sensitive to the beings around her…may her tribe increase!

Barn Owl Rescue, Thirukkadaiyur, 211211

December 23, 2011

A very eventful and enjoyable week, travelling in Kerala and then Tamil Nadu, attending, first, the COSTIIMA (Class of Seventy Three, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad) annual meet, which was held at Cocobay Resort, Kumarakom, Kerala…and then the Shashti Abdha Poorthi (60th birthday) of Anand, KM’s close friend and IIM classmate (a friendship that dates back to 1971!) and Devika, at the beautiful temple of Thirukkadaiyur, seat of Amrita Ghateeswarar and Abhirami.

However, that will all be described later. One of the good deeds that I performed was the rescue of a Barn Owl!

Right in front of the temple, as we were going in, this Barn Owl flew out into the open, in a befuddled state and sat on the ground:

L brn owl bkgrnd 211211 trikdyr

Immediately, I was alarmed to find that the crows started congregating, and a man started hitting the “bird of ill omen” as he called it, with a stick. The bird managed to avoid the man’s stick, but was just hopping out of reach:

L Barn Owl sid Trkdyr 211211

I then managed to catch the bird (I have the scratches to prove it!) and had the bright idea of putting it in the nearby old building which had a pay-and-use ladies’ toilet, where the men, the local urchins, and the crows could not get at it.

L brn owl st trkdyr 211211

I was rewarded, a little later, by the bird’s flying away through the front porch bars, to a heavy-foliage mango tree, where it seemed safe. I was very late for some of the Shashti abdha poorthi rites, but felt very happy about the rescue..otherwise, this bird would have been the main course for the crows’ breakfast!

Story with a bad ending…

September 20, 2007

For some time now, I have belonged to a group committed to helping BARN OWLS in Bangalore. We are getting nest-boxes fabricated to ensure that these natural enemies of the rats that are proliferating in our city, breed and establish themselves even in urban environs.

I joined because several barn owls come to roost in a ventilation shaft in our apartment building. The trouble is, barn owls are NOT “cute” birds. They suffer further from the superstition that says that they are birds of ill-omen; and to top it all, they make chirring sounds all night, and I cannot really blame the residents of my apartment building for being disturbed by the noise all night long, and also being disgusted by the mess they leave at the bottom of the ventilation shaft.

But I little thought that one of the owls would be poisoned…but that is what our building association did when I was away travelling. When I returned, I had long conversations with the residents’ committee and went to each flat along that shaft, and tried to explain how useful these birds are. Well, certainly they decided that they would not poison the birds any more. But it was decided to block off the ventilation shaft with strong wire-mesh so that the birds could not come to roost there any more.

But, quite typically, that was also done in a shoddy way, and the fibreglass sheets that were laid at the top of the shaft quickly shifted, providing enough space for the birds to return. All that happened was that because of the wire-mesh across the residents’ windows, I could no longer see the owls or photograph them as I wanted to, when they started coming back to roost at night.

This morning, a few children came running to me and said that “some animal” was there in tbe basement of my block. I went down and there was this baby barn owl, which was sitting in the driveway near the basement:

baby barn owl 200907 casa ansal

The bird was pretty distressed; it had been having very loose motions, and was flying a little…and the children, looking at its talons and its sharp beak, were also scared, and their shrieking frightened the bird even more. Luckily, it was time to go to school and they left me and the owl alone.

I first agonized about whether I should touch it, because often, the human touch means that they are rejected and often killed by the other birds. But the bird’s condition made me decide that there was no alternative. But when I approached it, the bird kept flying away.

So I came back upstairs (having detailed a security guard to keep an eye on it) and phoned up another member of the owl group, who told me to try and catch it by throwing a towel over it. So I got a soft towel, and my camera as well, and went down again.

The bird had come to the basement steps, and I clicked it. Then, when I went closer to put the towel over it, it went off again, to sit on a water pipe at the top of the basement…so I waited for it to come somewhere accessible again, so that I could catch it and take it to the Bangalore Rehabilitation Centre, the animal rescue shelter which I have written about earlier.

About twenty minutes later, it did come down to the floor, and I had not taken the next step towards it…when the bird flopped down, quite dead.

I don’t have to tell you how I felt…

Yes, possibly the little one was quite sick, and that’s why it had been thrown out…perhaps it didn’t have much of a chance from the beginning…shock and trauma would have caused the death, as my birding friend Prasad said….

But the trouble is, as Calvin put it when one of the woodland creatures that he found, died: “It’s gone, but it’s not gone inside me.”

Not feeling very happy today.

PfA again

July 7, 2007

http://bangalore.metblogs.com/archives/2007/07/the_second_people_for_animals.phtml

The S3IS does NOT take good photographs in low-light situations. Graininess prevails…