Rescued, healing pelican takes flight with the help of wild birds

Published: March 23, 2020
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According to SWD officials, the pelican was held captive by a Gulistan-e-Johar resident. REPRESENTATIONAL IMAGE. PHOTO: FILE

According to SWD officials, the pelican was held captive by a Gulistan-e-Johar resident. REPRESENTATIONAL IMAGE. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: A pelican, which hadn’t completely healed after it was rescued by Sindh wildlife Department (SWD) officials last year and eventually released into the wild earlier this month, was helped by a squadron of wild pelicans in taking flight and soaring to new heights, it emerged on Sunday.

A post on SWD’s Twitter account, announcing the flight of the pelican, read, “In March 2019, [a] Karachi wildlife inspector recovered this Pelican from the illegal possession [of a citizen].”

According to SWD officials, the pelican was held captive by a Gulistan-e-Johar resident, from whose possession it was rescued after a team conducted a raid on a tip-off. It was rehabilitated for 15 days and then released in the premises of Port Qasim. However, it was unable to fly – its feathers had been pulled out.

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“The bird was kept in inhuman conditions and had to be shifted to Haleji Lake Wildlife Sanctuary,” SWD conservator Javed Ahmed Mahar told The Express Tribune.
The SWD tweeted that the bird was kept at the sanctuary “so that [its] feather[s] could regenerate.”

However, even after a year in rehabilitation, the bird “was not ready to go into the wild,” tweeted Mahar.

Initially, the department officials left it by a lakeside and as expected, it did not fly despite SWD officials leaving it at a water body, one of the preferred spots of the species, explained Mahar while talking to The Express Tribune. They then had to take a “tough decision,” as Mahar put it.

“Until few days back, when [the bird’s] feathers regenerated, we knew that it was not [yet] ready to go into the wild, [but] we took a tough decision” by leaving it in the middle of a lake, he posted on his Twitter account.

“It was risky but we had to do it,” he said.

According to Mahar’s post, “Soon after… a squadron of pelicans appeared [and] stayed with him [the healing bird] for a few days.”
It was interesting to observe their communication, he later told The Express Tribune, adding, “They had a dialogue after which they accepted him as a part of their squadron.”

And then, as SWD and Mahar stated on their separate Twitter accounts, the healing bird’s wild pelican “friends took him away,” flying high into the sky.

Having witnessed the moment, Mahar termed it an “amazing sight to see.”

At the same time, he has also appealed to citizens to not to hold speechless wildlife animals captive illegally.

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