Saturday, 13 August 2011

Between rescue and release, animals suffer in captivity

CHENNAI: It has been a week since the forest department rescued a barn owl from the terrace of a house in Tirumangalam. But the bird is still sitting in a cage in the forest department's rescue centre in Velachery, its broken wing dangling as it tries to hide from the glare of the sun.Conservationists and wildlife experts say that wild creatures rescued from urban areas need to be treated and released as quickly as possible. "Wild creatures are sensitive and the trauma of being handled too much can affect their survival. There is no reason to hold on to an animal that is not injured. It should be released immediately into a safe environment," says wildlife conservationist and filmmaker Shekar Dattatri.Forest department staff take the creatures to the rescue centre and keep them in cages in the backyard. 

"We don't have a real procedure for rescue and release," says forest range officer S Davidraj. "If the animals are healthy, we release them within two days or a week at the maximum," he says. They just released monkeys into an area about 200km from the city. "We released the slender loris, which we rescued about a week ago, into the Guindy National Park," he says.Since January, the forest department has rescued more than 1,900 monkeys, 600 snakes, 50 parrots, 20 deer, two jackals and about five barn owls, apart from the lone slender loris that made the headlines. The centre responds to calls from Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur.It has about 12 people who rescue animals, but does not have a full-time vet. "We call vets from Vandalur Zoo, Blue Cross or private clinics in the area," he says. 

"We have trained staff to handle creatures and have all the equipment we need," he says. But staff say they usually don't have more than sticks, hooks, ropes and cloth to bring in animals.Animal handling is another area that has the conservationists worried. "The staff need better equipment to keep both themselves and the animals safe. They need to be trained to handle creatures. Irulas, who are traditional snake catchers, handle the reptiles but what about other creatures?" says T Murugavel of Environment Monitoring and Action Initiating.The forest department needs a set protocol and procedure for the rescue and rehabilitation of urban wildlife, says Dattatri.

A former senior forest official says the department has developed a protocol for rehabilitation of larger animals like elephants and panthers."In the last three years, the department developed a scientific approach for rehabilitation of some animals. Vets get training in tranquilising, staff know how to react to an emergency. But the department need to develop protocol for smaller creatures, procure the right equipment and provide training to staff," he says.

1 comment:

  1. Almost same is the case with animals rescued and confiscated from illegal captivity.To follow the legal course means an almost unending period of trauma for animals before they are ordered to be released or relocated.Over enthusiasm sometimes kills the true sense of animal love and welfare and becomes a cruelty in fact.