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Posted at: Jun 13, 2018, 5:35 PM; last updated: Jun 14, 2018, 1:12 PM (IST)

Stork with plastic ring stuck around beak rescued

Naveen S Garewal

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 13

After five days of pursuit, the starving black-necked stork that had captured everyone’s attention with its beak stuck in a plastic ring was finally rescued from Kherki Majra in Dhankot, Gurugram, on Wednesday. The bird, which appeared healthy but exhausted, has been fed and kept under observation. It will be set free on Thursday.

Two rescuers — Rakesh Ahlawat, a 28-year-old birdwatcher from Dighal, and Sonu Dalal, a 32-year-old NGO volunteer from Mandothi (both in Jhajjar district) — spotted the bird near the Kherki Majra fields around 7.20 am and managed to catch it after a two-hour chase.

“They found the stork struggling to fly because of dehydration and exhaustion, making it vulnerable to prey. The two chased after the bird for over three kilometres and followed it into a water body till it gave up. They chose to pursue the bird on foot after conventional methods to catch it failed,” Additional Principal Conservator of Forest Vinod Kumar told The Tribune.

On June 8, a group of Delhi-based bird watchers spotted the stork’s unusual behaviour in the Basai wetlands. Its close-up pictures showed that a plastic ring had got stuck around its beak. 

They alerted the forest department officials who initially took the help of some local NGOs and volunteers. As it turned out to be an uphill task, they approached the Bombay National History Society (BNHS) the next day.

“We initially searched the area near Najafgarh Lake on Saturday,” said wildlife inspector Sunil Kumar. Three teams, led by the BNHS, were formed. These were supported by the wildlife and forest departments. As the bird’s photos went viral on the social media, Environment Minister Vipul Goel and S Narayanan, Member Secretary of the Haryana State Pollution Control Board, asked rescuers to go all out to save it.

The teams used drones to track its movement, but high-tension cables hindered the search. Then long bamboo sticks with a sticky material on one end and a bush-like camouflage on the other were used to get closer, but to no avail. As the bird grew weak, its flights reduced each day, till this morning when it couldn’t fly any more.

Dr Ashok Khasa, veterinary surgeon with wildlife department, said the bird had eaten three fish and would be kept under observation for a day. The bird’s foot has been tagged for monitoring.

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