Flown into misery: Forest officials dump 95 injured kites at SGNP
Thane forest officers, who were supposed to hand over the birds to Pune’s Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park, left them at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park instead
Ideally, animal rescuers should be able to trust the Forest Department, right? Well, if you answered in the affirmative, then what comes next will surprise you. The officers of Bombay Territorial Range of Thane Forest Department (TFD), who were supposed to take the kites that were rescued from Pradeep D’Souza, an animal lover’s residence, failed to keep their word of safely handing over the kites to the Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park in Katraj near Pune. Instead, they dumped the injured and unable-to-fly birds inside the core forest area of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, where no one quite knows how anyone would take care of the birds.
The filthy conditions of the place add to the misery of the injured kites
On April 1, mid-day had reported how the wildlife wing of the Thane Forest Department (TFD) had rescued 191 birds and bats, from D’Souza’s house. These included seven full-grown bats, 25 parrots, 25 owls, 125 kites and nine sea birds. The kites that were rescued by the FD were brought to Bombay Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSCPA). At that time, this newspaper had been informed by Anil Todarmal, Range Forest Officer, TFD that 30 kites had been handed over to Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park and the remaining 95 injured kites, too, would be shifted there soon. But earlier this week, a shocked animal lover spotted those injured kites near Tulsi Lake at Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
Clipped wings: The kites are locked inside a dilapidated structure near Tulsi Lake at SGNP
When sunday mid-day spoke to Deepak Sawant, Curator, Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park, he confirmed that the remaining 95 kites had not been handed over to them yet. “Just 30 kites and a few parrots were brought to us, after which, we did not have space for the remaining birds. The kites are under treatment and a few of them are responding well.”
Lt Col (Dr) JC Khanna, Secretary BSPCA said, “The driver, who had come along with a forest official to hand over the kites to Katraj, told me that instead of Katraj, he was asked to drive to SGNP and all the kites were released in the core of the park.”
The animal lover, D’Souza, had alleged that since the TFD officials did not respond to calls to take in the rescued birds, he had started keeping them at his home. He has been rescuing birds since the past two decades. He said that he was not surprised after learning what the forest officials did. “Many of the officials do not have basic knowledge about how to treat unwell birds.”
The other side
Inspite of repeated attempts, RFO Anil Todarmal did not answer calls. KP Singh, CCF, Thane Forest Department, said, “We will have to get the facts checked with the officers handling the case. The medical reports of these kites will be checked.” Dr Sanjeev Pinjarkar, veterinary officer, SGNP confirmed, “I do not know who has released the kites in the park, but we realised their presence two or three days ago. They are here.” Vikas Gupta, Chief Conservator of Forest was not available for comment.
SMD has learnt that the kites are locked inside a dilapidated structure near Tulsi lake. This area is divided into three rooms and connected through doors. There are three windows of which one remains open, resulting in poor ventilation for the birds. “Our vet has informed us that these kites have come from outside but we are not aware from where they have come. We are investigating the matter,” said Sachin Repal, Assistant Conservator of Forest, SGNP.
“Birds cannot be released in nature without being treated. Moreover, if the birds have diseases, there is a high chance that they will pass on their diseases to the other healthy birds around.”
— Asad Rehmani, Director, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS)
Kites were originally rescued and taken to the BSCPA for treatment