A helping paw

Jan 20, 2013, 11:51 IST | Dhvani Solani

Perch Project is the brainchild of two visual communication designers � a blog that tells you what to do and how to help an injured bird, an abandoned kitten or any feathered or furry creatures that you may have rescued

A plump bird with skinny legs masquerading as a nurse is perched atop their logo; its kooky look and the Red Cross symbol on its cap making even the staunchest ornithophobe smile. Scroll further down the blog page of the Perch Project and you will learn more about two visual communication designers’ humble attempt to help birds and animals in distress. The Perch Project aims to equip you with all the necessary information, so that the next time you encounter an abandoned animal or an injured bird, you know what to do instead of depending on a vet or sifting through pages of unreliable information on the internet.

A vet treats an injured pigeon which was rescued after getting entangled in a manja during Makar Sankranti. Perch Project gives people tips on how to rescue birds in distress. Pic/Nimesh Dave

An initiative of 26 year-old Hazel Karkaria 25 year-old Somesh Kumar who went to college together, the Perch Project went online in October 2012. “A few months ago, during a holiday at my ancestral home in Patna, I found a baby Mynah in my parking area,” recalls Kumar, who is currently based in Bangalore. “I picked it up and took it home, but had no idea what to do.

Founders of the Perch Project, Hazel Karkaria and Somesh Kumar

So, I called up Hazel, who knows more about such matters, and she gave me a few pointers on the phone. Sadly, the bird didn’t survive. But it made me think of how information on urban wildlife isn’t always available or accessible and is seldom put in an Indian context. For instance, if you run a search on how to rescue a baby Mynah, it will suggest that you feed it mynah pellets, which is very difficult to find in India. Instead, we tell you how to feed the bird something that is readily available in most Indian homes and acts as a great substitute.”

Currently on their blog is an Uttarayan-themed flyer that draws a fine line between being preachy and urging people to help — it doesn’t tell you not to fly a kite because it ends up injuring and killing scores of birds, but it appeals to you to help out a bird in distress. The flyer directs you to their blog page on which you will find information on how to catch the bird, what kind of a cardboard box to put it in and helpline numbers of an animal rescue organisation. For those interested in supplementary reading, there is detailed but simple-to-read information on pigeons, how to identify how old it is, the kind of shelter you can prepare for an injured pigeon, what and how to feed it as well as how to rehabilitate it. There are similar details on cats and the Common Mynah, interspersed with illustrations and food charts.

“We do not offer medical advice because neither of us are qualified veterinarians, but most of our information draws on personal experience as well as experience of others, apart from inputs by professionals,” says Ahmedabad-based Karkaria, whose house often sees injured or homeless birds and animals, thanks to her parents’ interest in animal rescue. Adds Kumar, “We try to upload posts that are relevant to events, like our recent Uttarayan one. We might even make it into a directory of sorts, with a list of helpline numbers and contacts of good vets that the readers can approach. Another idea is to create an online forum where people can discuss a topic or ask questions.”

Upcoming post ideas include one on how to feed squirrels, kites, puppies, doves and koyals. Since Karkaria holds a day job at a design firm, and Kumar is working on his graphic novel, and because each of their posts are written and illustrated by the two themselves, content generation takes time. “We want to put the power into people’s hands, and enable those who want to help birds and animals but do not know where to start,” says Karkaria, Check out Perch Project on www.perchproject.tumblr.com or www.facebook.com/PerchProject 

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