When animals are stuck in distress, the Wildlife SOS Rapid Response Units are always ready to respond to their call of duty. Throughout the month of March, our teams were busy with several rescue operations, including that of a monkey from a VIP location, a crocodile from human habitations, and owls from the high Himalayas. Along with these, our unit conducted raids in Vadodara to liberate animals caught in the trap of illegal wildlife trade. Here’s how the month of March transpired for the rescuers.
To begin with, the highlight of the month for the Rapid Response Unit in Delhi-NCR was the rescue of a Rhesus macaque from a VIP location. The team successfully rescued the monkey that had taken temporary refuge inside the Parliament House. The macaque had strayed into an office room and was initially found lying down under a table. The security personnel then immediately alerted the Wildlife SOS 24×7 rescue helpline.
When the Wildlife SOS Rapid Response Unit arrived, the macaque appeared extremely feeble and exhausted. The team members exercised extreme caution and carefully rescued the monkey. After providing the necessary treatment, the macaque was released back into a natural habitat.
Some of the other important rescues of the month included a Checkered keelback snake from Rajghat, a Spectacled cobra from Dwarka sector 19, and a peacock from the British High Commission in Chanakyapuri. For the month of March, the Rapid Response Unit rescued 57 birds which mostly included Black kites, pigeons and peafowls.
The team rushed to the aid of 15 mammals and 5 reptiles (all of which were snakes) in March. In total, Wildlife SOS saved 77 animals from Delhi-NCR that month. This is a lesser number as compared to March last year when 31 mammals, 116 birds and 16 reptiles were rescued, possibly because of minimal disturbance to wild animals this year.
March was dominated by reptile rescues that kept the team in Agra running from one end of the city to the other. A total of 14 Indian Wolf snakes were rescued, the highest among reptiles. However, one of the most crucial operations was that of a crocodile rescue. In a late night mission, Wildlife SOS and the forest department rescued a 7-foot-long crocodile after it wandered inside Nagla Amaan village, situated in the Firozabad district of Uttar Pradesh.
When the visitor decided to drop by late at night, the villagers immediately called the forest department for help, who in turn informed Wildlife SOS for assistance. A 4-member team from the Wildlife SOS Rapid Response Unit travelled nearly 120 km in the night to reach the location. After a 4-hour-long rescue mission, the crocodile was lured into a trap cage and was safely released near Jasrana in a suitable habitat.
The Agra team also carried out life-saving rescues by reaching in the nick of time, not once but twice! The Rapid Response Unit members rescued two Golden jackals in two separate situations from open borewells. The team rescued a jackal from Dulara village in Fatehpur Sikri. This was followed by another rescue conducted in Paroli Sikarwar village in Fatehabad. With the help of the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department, the team extricated the female jackal from a 30-foot-deep open borewell in an hour-long operation.
Besides the Golden jackals, the Agra team rescued a Spotted deer, a couple of Nilgais and a host of Rhesus macaques, taking the mammalian tally to 30. March recorded 34 reptile rescues with snakes such as the Spectacled cobra, Indian Rock python and Red sand boa in the list. The team also saved 26 birds that included Indian Peafowls, Black kites and a Spotted owlet, thereby taking the total tally to 90 rescued animals for the month.
The month of March was crucial in saving valuable lives in the city of Vadodara. In a joint operation, the Gujarat Forest Department and the Wildlife SOS-GSPCA team seized 14 Rose-ringed parakeets in a case of illegal possession of wildlife as pets. The Wildlife SOS-GSPCA (Gujarat Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) team conducted a day-long raid to seize the parakeets from the Nagarwada area in Vadodara. The birds were kept in tiny cages by residents of the area, and some of them were in awful physical condition.
After days of intel gathering by the Wildlife SOS-GSPCA team, we alerted the forest department about the birds being kept illegally in households. Taking swift action, the forest department dispatched a team of officers, who were assisted by our team members in the operation. The birds were rescued and safely handed over to the forest department.
Some of the birds that we rescued were suffering from poor health conditions, and had little or no feathers. Their feathers had shed mostly due to poor or wrong nutrition that may have included food items meant for human consumption.
Earlier in the month, the Wildlife SOS-GSPCA team conducted another raid, and seized 3 Indian Star tortoises and an Alexandrine parakeet from a residence in the Alkapuri area of Vadodara. The Rapid Response Unit also rescued a lot of snakes, both venomous and non-venomous ones. The venomous snakes included Russell’s viper, Spectacled cobra and Common krait. Indian Rat snake, Checkered keelback, Buff-striped keelback, Common trinket and Indian Wolf snake rounded off the list of non-venomous ones.
The snakes were rescued from a variety of locations such as a security guard’s room, from below a gas cylinder, a warehouse and a construction site, to mention a few. A total of 44 reptiles which included 18 venomous and 24 non-venomous snakes, and two Bengal Monitors, were rescued in Vadodara. Besides the parakeets seized in the raids, 69 birds were saved throughout the month. The number of mammals stood at 31, taking the tally for March to 144 rescued animals.
Jammu & Kashmir
Even though the number of rescues in Kashmir for the month of March wasn’t as high as in the other cities, all of them were crucial operations. The Rapid Response Unit operating out of Srinagar rescued a total of 5 birds, which included 2 Barn owls, a Peregrine falcon and a couple of Black kites. The subspecies of the Peregrine falcon rescued is called the Shaheen falcon. The bird is a small raptor that gets its name from the Middle Persian word šāhēn (meaning ‘majestic’ or ‘kingly’).
The team rescued the Shaheen falcon from a residential area in Baghat, Srinagar after residents informed us about the bird lying collapsed on the ground. Further diagnosis revealed that the raptor was unable to fly due to a fractured wing and is currently under our care. Winters are quite harsh for birds of prey as there is inadequate prey for them to feed on. Add to this snow and difficult weather, and our helpline rings constantly with calls to rescue avians, most of which are for owls.
The Wildlife SOS helpline is the only 24-hour rescue cell in the above-mentioned regions that addresses the problems of human-wildlife conflict in urban spaces. Growing human population, unchecked urbanisation and misconceptions about many of the native wildlife species with whom we share our landscape, can lead to conflict. That is why rescue operations work as an ideal method to educate and sensitise the public to the presence of urban wildlife and encourage harmonious coexistence.
Every month, Wildlife SOS carries out numerous rescues of wild animals. Running 4 emergency rescue helplines in 4 different regions has led to timely rescues, and has saved several animals caught in dire straits. We encourage people to immediately alert the Wildlife SOS team on these numbers if they ever spot a wild animal in distress.
Delhi NCR – +91 9871963535
Agra – +91 9917109666
Vadodara – +91 9825011117
Jammu & Kashmir – +91 7006692300, +91 9419778280