Category: wildlife rehabilitation


Photo credit: WRRC

In Bangalore, in south India, following a recent cricket match, fans of the winning team set off loud bursts of firecrackers to celebrate.

Around dark, Anand Nair, Supervisor of the WRRC center (the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre – Bangalore), received a call from caring people in an apartment complex, saying that they had found a young barn owl, who seemed disoriented, confused, and unable to fly. Apparently, she had been very frightened by the loud, startling sounds and couldn’t fly back to her usual roosting area.

Anand asked the people to approach the owl carefully, holding a towel in front of them and then to wrap the towel around her gently in order to restrain her, then place her in a cardboard box.
He had also asked them to put a few air holes in the box before putting the owl into it, and once the owl was inside the box to tape the box securely and put it in a quiet, dark place, then wait until the WRRC could send a transporter to pick up the owl and bring her to their center for treatment. The kind people, with great care, were able to do all this successfully, so that the owl, once inside the dark box, could begin to calm down a bit.

When, a little later, the owl arrived at the WRRC Centre, with gentle secure handling, they were able to cover her face to reduce her stress. And after a short while, they were able to weigh her. She weighed 330 grams.

They gave her a physical exam and treated a few superficial injuries, then placed her in a sky kennel for further observation and recuperation. In the south of India, it can be cool at night in the winter, and not being warm enough would only slow down recovery time, so they placed a heating pad near the owl to keep her warm during the night.

Very soon she was feeling better and could be shifted to an owl aviary to check her flying ability. Dr. Roopa Satish, the chief veterinarian and licensed wildlife rehabilitator, kept a good eye on her progress.

Initially she just hobbled from one branch to the next but soon was gliding effortlessly and silently in the aviary.

As soon as the relevant permission has been received from the Forest Department, she’ll be taken back to her home range and be released at dusk in the presence of the forest officials and her human friends from the apartment complex.

Even though none of us can stop all loud noises and bright lights in a city, the more we can each remember to think about the birds that are all around us, wherever we may live, the greater chance we may have to remind others about birds, so we can all learn to be thoughtful of the birds who live among us, often unseen and unnoticed.

Barn owls are found all over the world.

This barn owl has recovered and will have a good chance to live a long happy life, thanks to the kindness and quick action of all the people who cared about her wellbeing.

It was after midnight, on November 14 of last year, when Anand and Kiran gently picked up the first star tortoise to weigh her.

After her long ordeal of so much travel, she looked dazed and not too well. Anand Nair, the Supervisor of the WRRC Centre, and Kiran, the night caregiver, took great care while moving her and treating her.

Catching a poacher

Earlier that evening, the police, acting on a tip, had been waiting at the bus station in one of the most congested parts of the city of Bangalore, in south India. Tipped off, they were waiting for a poacher and caught him red-handed with his live cargo at the bus station as he got off the bus from the neighboring state, Tamil Nadu. While some of the police officers arrested the poacher and led him away, the other officers got on to a bus, carrying the bags of tortoises and arrived at the WRRC Centre (Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre) well after midnight. They got the tortoises as quickly as they could to the WRRC, but it was a long day for the officers – and even longer for the tortoises.

No wonder the first tortoise and all the others to follow were feeling dazed and disoriented. They’d been packed tightly into baggage without enough air or space, and no water. There were several hundred of them.

Sadly, over the next week, despite the best efforts of the caregivers at WRRC, a few of the tortoises died, unable to recover from the ordeal they had been through.

A long work-day

However, with the excellent care they received, all 531 of the remaining tortoises did fully recover. That November night, into the dawn hours, Anand and Kiran weighed each tortoise, recorded their weight, cleaned them off carefully, and rehydrated them. All this took nearly three hours.

Most of the tortoises weighed between 40 to 500 grams (from around one ounce – to just over one pound). Because it was November and quite cool for the stressed tortoises, heaters and heating pads were placed all around them to keep them warm through the rest of the night.

Like all cold-blooded animals, they need to keep warm when the weather is cold. After the physical examination, they were shifted to a large enclosure with feed like freshly grated vegetables: carrot, beetroot, sweet potato, cucumber, and greens like coriander. Wild grasses were also added to improve the variety.

Wildlife Protection in India

The poor, rural farmers who had caught the tortoises had been paid just ten rupees (13 U.S. cents) by the poacher for each tortoise.

The worldwide wildlife trade is a major catastrophe for the earth’s wildlife. Most captured wildlife do not survive, and the few that do are then sold illegally, often into the pet trade. Kept confined in unsuitable conditions, they will have lost their wild homes and may never again know the joy of living in the wild.

Fortunately, India, one of the richest countries on earth in terms of biodiversity, also has very enlightened wildlife laws, especially the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. It is illegal to capture wildlife.

Soon, on December 13, many of the 531 rescued tortoises had bounced back and were feeling healthy and well again. They were ready for release thanks to the expert care and the healthy diet provided by the WRRC; the others would be released a few weeks later, just as soon as they were ready.

Return to the deep forest

That December morning, Dr. Roopa Satish, Chief Veterinarian and licensed wildlife rehabilitator, took several of them deep into the forest to an ideal site, where there was water available, far enough into the forest to be at a great distance from any human activity. There, with great care, she picked up each tortoise and then set him or her down among the tall grass at the foot of trees. She chose each spot very carefully. Each tortoise hesitated a moment, then picked up his feet and slowly made his way off into the woods. Free at last, enjoying breathing the fresh air, each tortoise made her way into the brush where she could find native plants and insects to eat, smell the fresh breeze, and begin her life anew, wild, and free again.

A couple of weeks later, a second release took place for the remaining tortoises – hundreds of lives saved – each one an individual living being.

Thanks to the dedicated police work and to the experienced professional care they received at the WRRC Centre, the tortoises are back home in the wild again, with the rest of their lives ahead of them. They can enjoy strolling along on the grass, in the shade or in the sunlight, just as nature intended.

And thank you, as well, for your very kind support for the forest animals of India!

Photo Credit:

Davidvraju
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

The photo at the top is of a different tortoise, not one of the WRRC tortoises.

The video shows the actual WRRC tortoises.

Recently, in Bangalore, in south India, the police rescued an Indian chameleon who was being kept as a pet. Like other wild animals, Indian chameleons are protected by the Wildlife Protection Act of India, and it’s illegal to keep them as pets. They are meant to lead their natural lives free in the wild.

The chameleon was brought to the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre (WRRC), where Dr. Roopa Satish, the licensed wildlife rehabilitator there, examined her. She weighed 60 grams. She was rehydrated, placed under observation, and given insects to eat, which are her natural diet. Often, in captivity, chameleons are fed inappropriate food which can cause digestive upsets.

Very shy creatures, chameleons belong in the wild where they can live among wild plants and rocks and find plenty of places to hide so that they feel comfortable and secure.
Being around people and having little cover causes them great stress and, sadly, they often don’t survive being in captivity. People who don’t really intend to harm them, often don’t understand their natural shyness and their need for a quiet life in the wild.

Fascinating reptiles, chameleons have many distinct features like a flattened body shape, and a prehensile tail, which means that they can grasp and hold objects with their tail. Like other lizards, they have a long tongue that can dart out to catch insects from a distance. They walk with a swaying movement. Some of their toes point forwards and some backwards so they can hold on to tree branches. Each of their eyes can move independently, giving them depth of vision, which comes in handy when catching insects. And, of course, the color of their skin changes, sometimes to match their background, sometimes to reflect other circumstances or to send a signal.

Thanks to the expert care and dedication of Dr. Roopa and the caregivers at WRRC, the chameleon did very well.

Dr. Roopa writes, “After 48 hours of observation, the chameleon was active and ate the insects so she was released inside a protected forest on a tree branch where she slowly but surely held the branch and moved into the foliage and disappeared from our vision due to excellent camouflage.”

Our best wishes to the chameleon for a long and happy life, roaming freely in the forest.

The more we can all respect nature and appreciate and value the lives of wild animals, the happier and healthier life on our planet will be.

Photo: the WRRC

Kangaroo wouldn’t pose for a photo, so this is another bonnet macaque.
Shantanu Kuveskar, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

First, Kangaroo isn’t really a kangaroo (because this is India, not Australia). Actually, he is a bonnet macaque, a monkey, who weighs seven and a half pounds (3.39 kilos). On November 3 of last year, he had an accident. Some very kind people rescued him and he was transported from a southern suburb of Bangalore to the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre. Monkeys, of course, climb to get from place to place, and he had been swinging along on the electric wires over the main road in order to get across it when he was electrocuted.

For any birds or animals, electrocutions tend to be really serious, and his prognosis for survival was indeed grave. For three months, he received lots of treatments and then had to have three of his limbs amputated. (The photo is of a different bonnet macaque, not Kangaroo.)

Amazingly, he was a cheerful monkey through everything. He recovered and nothing seemed to dampen his spirits.

When he was moved into the large monkey enclosure which had special platforms for easy movement, he was with other young, orphaned monkeys. Dr. Roopa writes that “Kangaroo immediately took charge of them all, in spite of his handicaps, and he could be seen, grooming them, playing, and enjoying their company.”

With just one leg, he used his tail to help him balance, and he hopped with great ease just like a kangaroo, hence his name. With his handicaps, he wouldn’t be able to be released and the plan was for him to live permanently at the center. Being a clever monkey, Kangaroo made his own plans. He watched and observed the routine at the center, and one day, while the keeper was in the enclosure doing cleaning, he managed to slip right past him and out the door.

Of course, he wasn’t going far. Now he still lives at the center, but he’s free to move anywhere and can be found hopping from tree to tree, having the time of his life, just as if he had all four limbs.

He gets a delicious dinner – a plate of his favorite food like shelled ground nuts, banana, cucumber, corn, sweet potato, pomegranate, carrots, and beans is placed up on the roof for him, which he polishes off. He has a good friend and companion now – another resident monkey, Taatha, which means grandfather, who is there for lifetime care and is also free to move about the center.

Thanks to Dr. Roopa’s expertise and the good efforts of his caregivers, Kangaroo is strong and feels well.

Despite all he has gone through, he is an amazing monkey, with an indomitable spirit. He’s made new friends and has done very well for himself – now living out his life in a great place – with no electric wires, no cars, or pollution – just an idyllic, beautiful green forest, with people to feed him.

In December 2020, the police rescued two Eurasian collared doves (Streptopelia decaocto) from illegal pet traders and brought them to the WRRC (Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre) in Bangalore, India.

First they were temporarily put into a cage, then moved to an aviary.

Fortunately, their feathers had not been clipped by the pet traders. If their feathers had been clipped, the recovery time would have taken much longer and been more difficult since the birds would have had to molt and then regrow their feathers.

In this case, since the feathers were intact, both had good flight, were active, and flew about with ease in the large aviary in which they were housed.

This lovely pair of doves had narrowly escaped having to spend their whole lives in captivity. Thanks to quick action by the police and the excellent care they received at the WRRC, their lives will be happy ones, spent in freedom in the wild.

After two months both were released together at the center since their species can be found in the forests nearby. They can still be heard, not far away, with their distinct vocalizations.

Photo credit: WRRC

© Forest Voices of India, 2021

An adult Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus) was rescued and brought from the village adjoining the forest, close to the WRRC center.

Somehow his leg had been broken. Some of the villagers tried their best for quite some time to catch him, but he always managed to slip away from them. Unfortunately, by the time they were able to catch him and bring him in for treatment, the leg had deteriorated so much that it had to be amputated, which was done by Dr. Roopa Satish and her team. He soon recovered and was able to get around well with just one leg.

His flying ability was good, and he was doing really well. However, he was still a handicapped bird, and it wouldn’t be safe for him to be released deep in the forest. So, he was released at the WRRC center itself where he can choose to make little forays into the nearby forest or spend his days in the area of the center itself. This is a much safer life for him. He is very comfortable there, sleeping in any one of the treetops, or watching the activities of the center from a front row perch on a roof – or, as Dr. Roopa writes, “occasionally coming down to earth to grace us with his beautiful plumage.”

Photo credit: WRRC

In September of 2020, a juvenile spot-billed pelican (Pelicanus phillipensis) was rescued from a home in the city of Bangalore and brought to the WRRC (the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, in Bangalore, India).

When she arrived, she was shy around people and also aggressive, as a wild bird would normally be. She wasn’t yet able to fly. She wasn’t feeling well, was not eating, and seemed to have an infection, so she was treated for this and was handfed.

Dr. Roopa Satish and the caregivers realized that, probably, the pelican was from one of the city lakes and had been kidnapped, possibly to be used for meat. Fortunately, she had been rescued by a good Samaritan, who understood just where to take her and brought her to the WRRC so she could receive expert care.

Learning to fly

Before long, she was able to eat on her own and was beginning to flap her wings, lift herself into the air, and exercise her flight muscles. Soon, she was put into a larger aviary where she had a wonderful time learning to fly. After a few months though, she could fly so well that the aviary became too small for her. She was brushing her wings against the sides in flight and risking hurting herself, so she really needed to be released right away.

This was a dilemma though because there were no pelicans flying in the immediate vicinity in the Bannerghatta Forest and the city lakes were not pleasant or safe release sites due to the high volume of human activity – fishing, boating, strolling, and bird watching. They weren’t a good place for a wild bird to be.

A place of refuge

In February, 2021, the pelican was driven 180 kilometers (50 miles) to a very special village, Kokkrebelluru, which is filled with birds. The people there love the birds and even sing songs to welcome them back after their migration. Nearby there are large, clean, beautiful lakes – good places for pelicans to catch fish. There are many other species of birds, such as painted storks, ibis, and Brahminy kites. The local villagers protect the birds, so they feel at home there, and they build hundreds of nests in the surrounding trees.

This was the perfect place for the pelican. She was released there at a research center for pelicans set up by the Forest Department and overseen by a pelican researcher.

They will keep an eye on her as she learns to fish for herself and will give some supplemental feeding if it is needed. When she’s fully ready, she’ll be able to live her life free in the wild, in a beautiful, safe, protected spot of great beauty. She’ll make new friends and will be able to migrate and return again to this idyllic place, living her life in freedom as nature intended.

Thanks to thoughtful person who rescued her, the expert care given by the WRRC team, and the help of the research center and the kind villagers of Kokkrebelluru, the pelican who very nearly became dinner is now all set to have a bright and happy future.


Photo credit: WRRC

The two-week old chicks were found on the ground by a kind person. They must have tumbled out of their nest, which was too high up for them to be returned to it.

Last May, right in the middle of the pandemic, they were brought from the city of Bangalore in south India to the nearby Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre.

In spite of it being summer, the little Indian mynas needed to be kept very warm, because small chicks cannot regulate their own temperature. They are dependent on the warmth of their parents, so when they have been orphaned, they need extra warmth. They were put into a very cozy basket so they could cuddle together and were monitored carefully. In the beginning they were handfed. Nestlings need to be fed much more frequently and much greater quantities of food than anyone could imagine. In the wild, this keeps both their parents very busy. Slowly, these chicks started to learn to feed on their own. And, after a while, when they were self-feeding and had grown a bit bigger so they could regulate their own temperature and stay warm enough, they were moved into a slightly larger cage.

Three months later they were moved into an aviary which had double mesh protection to guard against wild predators who might visit at night. Here they began to get practice flying, preparing for their next stage of life and their journey to freedom.

A few months later, they were moved again into a big aviary much like their natural habitat – filled with trees and branches, mud, and there were lots of insects there that they could catch, since insects are their natural diet.

Mynas are native to several Asian countries, including India. Unfortunately, they have been often been captured for the pet trade and subsequently released into the wild into habitats where they do not belong, in countries where they do not naturally exist. Of course, this is not the birds’ fault. Birds should never be captured and taken from the wild, unless they are orphaned or injured and in need of rehabilitation by a trained wildlife rehabilitator, followed by release back to the wild.

After nine months, these beautiful mynas, now strong and healthy, were released at the WRRC center where they are free to come and go as they please at the center itself or in the adjoining woodlands. Now they can live their lives happily in the natural habitat where they are meant to be. Dr. Roopa Satish, the WRRC licensed wildlife rehabilitator, writes, “They love to check up on us from time to time.”

*****

Forest Voices of India

– conducts charitable fundraising services for environmental charities, especially in India.

WRRC – The Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre,
Bangalore, India

– is licensed to treat and release back to the wild – birds, deer, monkeys, and other orphaned or injured wildlife.

– provides education and greater understanding that benefits forests, wildlife, and wildlife habitat.

How you can help

Click on the donate button and choose WRRC. Another great way to help is to send this link to a friend.

Bless you! Thank you for helping our wild friends!

© Forest Voices of India, 2021

Photo credits © WRRC, 2021

Indian rock python

Last year police officers in Karnataka, in south India, learned that ten terrapins and two turtles were being kept at a temple where they were being fed by devotees. It was kind of people to feed them, but sadly, they weren’t being given the right food. To make matters worse, they could never quite relax, because, like any shy wild creature in the presence of humans, they felt constantly on guard, so they were always stressed and never felt at home.

This past December, 2020, as soon as the officers learned that these animals were being kept at the temple, they stopped by to see firsthand what the situation was. They found ten Indian pond terrapins and two flapshell turtles that were living in cramped conditions, all in the same tank in the temple.

Normally, turtles and terrapins really love basking on top of rocks, where they can stretch out in the sun, but these animals had no rocks for basking. The temple authorities meant well, but they hadn’t realized that these animals really needed to be back in the wild. Both terrapins and turtles like to spend some time out of the water, terrapins even more than turtles. Both belong to the order chelonia.

Needing proper care

When the officers talked with the temple authorities, pointing out all the things that the terrapins and turtles actually needed to be happy, the authorities were very responsive. They immediately agreed with the officers that the turtles and terrapins should go to a facility where they could be rehabilitated and then released to live back in the wild.

On December 23 the officers took the animals to the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre in Karnataka. The veterinarian there, Dr. Roopa Satish, carried out a thorough physical examination as soon as the animals arrived. Then they were put into an enclosure with clean water, a basking area, sunlight, and given a lovely dinner of fresh food.

Soon, with good care, their demeanor changed dramatically. They became very active, swimming about happily, feeding ravenously, and basking away to their heart’s content. Just being given the few things that they needed made a huge difference.

They were kept under observation for three weeks to be sure they were doing well, then government permission was obtained for their release, and they were all sent off together to live in a clean pond inside a protected forest where no fishing or any other human activity is carried out. At last, they could feel safe in their new home.

Back free in the wild

Thanks to the kind efforts of the police officers and the quick understanding of the temple authorities, the terrapins and turtles were able to get a new start in life.

And thanks to the good care and expertise of Dr. Roopa and the caregivers at WRRC, these innocent animals will be able to enjoy the rest of their lives living in the forest in peace, free, and glad to be back in the wild once again.

A python too

Also on the same day, on December 23, 2020, an adult Indian rock python was brought in to the WRRC. In the U.S., unfortunately, we often think of the python as an invasive species which is causing havoc with the local wildlife in the Everglades. Through no fault of their own, pythons have been imported into the U.S. to be sold as pets and then, when they get too big, are released in the wrong place, where they don’t belong. Of course, they’re not meant to be pets, and they’re not meant to be living out in the wild in the U.S. either. It’s good to remind ourselves that the python is really a natural animal that should be left in the wild – in its native habitat in India or in other parts of south Asia.

Fishing nets can be a big problem

This adult Indian rock python that was brought in December to the WRRC was in a lot of distress. She’d gotten caught up in a net, with her head and jaw all tightly wrapped up so she couldn’t move. Fishing nets can cause a lot of harm to wildlife. It’s easy to get tangled up in them.

Dr. Roopa, with the help of one of the caregivers, restrained and sedated her, and, working really carefully, she cut away the fishing net. Eventually, the python was completely free of the net, which must have been a great relief to her. She wasn’t injured, just really stressed. She was rehydrated because they were not sure how long she had been stuck in the net and hence unable to feed. Once she was free of the net, she was able to move around easily. Pain killer injections were given to her, and she was left to recover in a quiet, secluded enclosure.

Captivity itself is stressful for wild creatures. The python didn’t really feel much like eating, and so she refused to eat any food. After three weeks of observation to be sure she was all right, she was taken back out to the forest, to a lovely peaceful spot where there is no human activity like fishing or washing. Immediately, she felt a lot livelier. She curled herself around a tree – looking out through the leaves at her surroundings with curiosity, all ready to take up her life again in a safe wilderness, in the beauty of the forest.

All wild animals have an important role to play ensuring the balance of nature. They all need protection from human activity that can cause them harm and a chance to live out their lives in the wild, as nature intends.

It takes special training and knowledge to rehabilitate wildlife, and it’s an essential activity — not just for the animals themselves, but also for the whole ecosystem – and for the wellbeing of the earth herself.

Forest Voices of India
– conducts charitable fundraising services for environmental charities, especially in India.
WRRC – The Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre,
Bangalore, India
– is licensed to treat and release back to the wild – birds, deer, monkeys, and other orphaned or injured wildlife.
– provides education and greater understanding that benefits forests, wildlife, and wildlife habitat.
How you can help
Click on the donate button and choose WRRC. Another great way to help is to send this link to a friend.
Bless you! Thank you for helping our wild friends!

© Forest Voices of India, 2021

Photo credit

© Indian rock python, after release, WRRC, 2021