While our Rapid Response Units across the country are busy running a tight ship with their rescues, it is time for us to bring you the monthly updates from August and the fruitful results of their indefatigable efforts. The Delhi-NCR (National Capital Region) helpline was flooded with bird rescue calls , whereas the one in Agra received several calls about crocodile and snake sightings.
Our teams in Vadodara and Jammu and Kashmir had their hands full as well: various cases have had them running from one end to another rescuing snakes from gardens, schools and even from the bonnet engine of a tourist bus! So let us take a peek into this month’s rescue highlights and see how the teams managed it all.
All days remain busy for the Wildlife SOS Rapid Response Unit, but it was an unexpected flurry of calls when they had to rescue multiple snakes across Delhi-NCR in a span of just two days. These included 3 Indian cobras, one baby Indian Rat snake and one Indian Wolf snake. For one of these rescues, the team had to rush to the Food Corporation of India’s office in Mayapuri after being informed about the presence of an Indian cobra (also known as the Spectacled cobra). The team safely rescued the 4-foot-long snake, which was on the door hinge of a room.
In another instance, residents of a household in Sector-3, Dwarka were terrified to discover an Indian cobra, 4 feet in length, inside their home. The snake had settled itself on the window sill of the residence’s bathroom. It was believed to have entered using the rear entrance of the residence, but the team safely rescued the cobra much to the relief of the family.
The team had to attend to a couple of bird rescues from VIP locations. In the first instance, employees of Nirman Bhawan, the office of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, spotted a Black kite lying injured on the road. After rescuing the bird, the Wildlife SOS team took the kite to our treatment facility. A detailed examination revealed that it had severely damaged its right wing possibly due to a vehicular collision, following which the veterinarians provided urgent medical treatment to the bird.
The Wildlife SOS Rapid Response Unit came to the aid of another Black kite in the premises of the Prime Minister’s residence. Due to dehydration, the bird was unable to fly and was seen sitting on the ground. Upon reaching the location, a two-member rescue team from the NGO first provided drinking water and hydrated the bird, after which it was carefully transferred to a transit facility.
Wildlife SOS also rescued an injured Painted stork from Kargil Apartment in Sector-18, Dwarka. Unable to fly, the bird had sustained a wound on one of its wings from a suspected manjha (glass-coated string of a kite) and was rescued by the Wildlife SOS Rapid Response Unit. A cut on the wing is critical for any bird and cannot be overlooked. The wound was treated by our veterinary team and placed under medical observation till the time it recuperated.
Our team intervened at the right time to retrieve four peacock chicks from the Bharat Nagar Police Station in Ashok Vihar. The chicks were found abandoned and kept in the custody of the police who, in turn, informed Wildlife SOS. The chicks were possibly abandoned by their mother, leaving them vulnerable to predators such as domestic cats and raptors. It was therefore important to bring these birds to safety.
The Delhi-NCR Rapid Response team saved a total of 212 animals in the month of August. From over 80 snakes rescued in the month, more than half of them consisted of Indian cobras. Six Bengal Monitor lizards were also rescued, which rounded off the reptile rescues for the month. Calls to aid birds and mammals were lesser than those for reptiles, but kept the team on their toes and included animals such as kites, peacocks, pigeons, a nilgai, civets and bats, among others.
For the Agra team, August was filled with unique yet challenging rescues. The month kickstarted with a 6-foot-long Indian Rock python found coiled inside the bonnet of a truck on Agra-Hathras Road. The Wildlife SOS Rapid Response Unit immediately reached the location upon receiving news from the driver of the goods carrier about this unexpected passenger. After managing the huge crowd gathered near the truck, the rescuers extricated the snake with the utmost caution in an operation that lasted one-and-a-half hours.
In a separate incident, a 9-foot-long Mugger crocodile stirred panic after it was spotted wandering in the agricultural fields of Ujeer Village, in the Mainpuri district of Uttar Pradesh. The reptile was initially seen in an agricultural field but it later made its way into the bushes. It was a joint rescue operation that lasted several hours, following which the massive crocodile was successfully released in the Chambal River in Etawah by the forest department and Wildlife SOS.
In a rather unexpected incident, a family residing in Agra’s Shahganj area realised they were playing host to an unusual guest: a bird had perched itself atop the television set in their dining room. It was an injured peacock which had taken refuge inside the house after being attacked by a troop of monkeys first and chased by a few stray dogs right after. After the team was informed of the bird’s predicament, the peacock was rushed to the Wildlife SOS transit care facility where it was treated for minor abrasion wounds under the wings.
August was quite an eventful month for the Agra Rapid Response Unit as the team rescued close to 200 animals. The number of reptiles occupied a major chunk, with 33 Spectacled cobras and 31 Common wolf snakes rescued in the month, in addition to a Flapshell turtle and three Indian Softshell turtle rescues.
The highlight of August for the Wildlife SOS-GSPCA (Gujarat Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) was the seizure of several wild animals kept illegally as pets across the city of Vadodara. The team assisted the Gujarat Forest Department in seizing 18 birds including Alexandrine, Rose-ringed and Plum-headed parakeets, and one baby Rhesus macaque in a city-wide operation.
The forest department officers were joined by the Wildlife SOS to conduct mass raids across the city which included Gorwa, Kishanwadi, Ajwa Road and Lalbaug areas. While the birds were being kept in cages, the baby Rhesus macaque was found tied to a rope on the balcony of a house that was raided by the authorities. The animals were placed under the custody of the forest department and cases were registered against the offenders under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
As the beginning of the month saw heavy rains, Vadodara became a haven for reptiles. This led the Rapid Response Unit to rescue as many as 8 Buff-striped keelback snakes from BAPS Swaminarayan School in Atladara. The team arrived at the school while students were attending their regular classes. The snakes were found coiled up inside a water storage tank, and exercising extreme caution, the rescue team safely extricated the nearly 2-feet-long snakes.
The Wildlife SOS-GSPCA team rescued a 4.5-foot-long Mugger crocodile as well. The reptile had ventured inside the premises of a factory in the Vishwamitri area from the nearby Vishwamitri river. The reptile was carefully lured into a trap cage by the rescue team and handed over to the forest department.
The Wildlife SOS Rapid Response Unit in Vadodara rescued 194 animals in the month of August. The number of reptile rescues took up the major part of it, including 25 venomous and 61 non-venomous snakes. In addition, the team came to the rescue of over 65 birds and 30 mammals.
Jammu and Kashmir
For our Jammu and Kashmir team in northern India, the Rapid Response Unit had an interesting start to the month when they had to travel nearly 35 km to Balhama, a small town located on the outskirts of Srinagar. Residents of a household were shocked to find a 4-foot-long Levantine viper in the verandah of their home and informed Wildlife SOS for urgent assistance. By the time our team reached the location, the snake had slithered behind a shoe rack and a crowd had gathered. After dispelling the crowd, the team extricated the snake with the necessary precautions and put it into a safety box.
In what was one of the most complicated rescue operations for the Jammu and Kashmir team, a 5-foot-long Black-headed royal snake that was stuck in the engine of a mini tourist bus in Srinagar was rescued. The driver of the bus was caught off-guard by the sight of a snake peeking out of the steering wheel, while the reptile’s lower body was stuck in the engine under the bonnet.
In an operation that lasted nearly 2 hours and involved a lot of patience and presence of mind, Aaliya Mir, the Programme Head for Wildlife SOS in Jammu and Kashmir, extricated the distressed snake with utmost caution, ensuring it did not sustain any injury. Given the stressful situation under which it was rescued, the snake was then placed under our care.
The rescue of a 6-foot-long Himalayan Trinket snake from Buchwara in the Zabarwan Forest Range also deserves mention here. The Rapid Response Unit found the non-venomous snake hidden in the backyard of a residential household. Geared with the necessary rescue equipment, the team safely extricated the snake from the thick foliage of the lawn. Our team’s presence and the eventual rescue was an assurance for the family since they encountered such a large snake for the first time.
The Jammu and Kashmir Rapid Response Unit wrapped up the month with 17 rescues, which included two Himalayan Trinkets, two Eastern Cliff racers, nine Indian Rat snakes, a Levantine viper, a Black-headed royal snake and a couple of Black kites.
Every month, we receive numerous calls regarding wildlife in distress, and August was no different. Wildlife SOS operates 24×7 emergency rescue helplines in the following cities:
Delhi NCR – +91 9871963535
Agra & Mathura in Uttar Pradesh – +91 9917109666
Vadodara, Gujarat – +91 9825011117
Jammu & Kashmir – +91 7006692300, +91 9419778280
If you ever come across any wild animal in distress, do alert our team on these numbers at the earliest!