Pelican back in lagoon thanks to rescue team

Published: April 24, 2006 | 4078th good news item since 2003

A group of animal lovers have saved a life – a bird’s life. Members of the ESO (Environment Society of Oman) and the Animal Rescue Centre teamed up yesterday in a successful bid to capture, clean (it off oil) and virtually save the huge oil-stricken bird stuck in a lagoon/pond in Al Ansab, some 50km west of Muscat.

Now, the onus is on this 10kg (or maybe more) bird, which the rescuers later identified as a Dalmation Pelican, (Pelecanus crispus), which are usually found in southern Eurasia, Albania, Greece, the Balkan region of southeastern Europe, Mongolia and China, to muster enough strength, take off from its current home and attempt to rejoin its flock, obviously now in some other country.

A total of six committed adults, four environmental-conscious and animal-loving children embarked on a nearly four-hour capture-cum-cleaning assignment that left the Dalmation Pelican clean and fresh and almost ready for flight.

As members of the group lovingly fed the bird with sardines and then let it back into the pond, onlookers, mostly workers connected with the Al Ansab Sewage Treatment Project, other volunteers hooted with joy.

For, it was a job well done and if the bird does take off within this week, the rescuers are going to be even more happy in not only saving it from death, but giving it a new lease in life.

Rob Baldwin, a key member of the ESO (Environment Society of Oman), explained how he and his team, Ollie Taylor and Iain Benson went on a small boat/canoe on the lagoon and herded the pelican on to the bank. “As soon as we caught him, we covered its eyes so that it would not be frightened. After which we washed it with normal detergent and cleaned him up thoroughly. It took us about two hours to take all the oil off.”

The bird was quite calm once it realised it was in safe hands. It was only when it was able to see that it got a bit panicky. “It was a bit cross at the early stages,” Rob said, laughing.

“And now, it is up to it,” Louise Waters, of the Animal Rescue Centre, added. Louise and Victoria Mayor-Hill had attempted to capture the pelican on Saturday. “It did struggle a bit, but when we covered its eyes and put a small band around his beak, it calmed down. It is quite heavy, maybe around 10kg or more,” Louise said.

Both Rob and Louise were optimistic that the bird would ready to take off from the lagoon soon. “It should be ready to fly soon. It has got to re-waterproof feathers and then will get that done by preening. It has an oil gland on its back, by which it will be able to waterproof the feathers,” they said. Both said that they would be back soon to see how it was faring.

Victoria, meanwhile, pointed to the team effort in rescuing the bird. “We would not have been able to do this, but for the help rendered by the ESO team. And it is such an absolutely satisfying feeling to see the bird in better shape now, hopefully it will soon be ready to fly,” she said.

Meanwhile, the man who deserves full credit, Udaya Shankar, the HSE officer of Galfar, was ecstatic in having “saved a life”. “All the preliminary measures are done and now we will wait and watch how the bird will fare. I take this opportunity to inform the Ministry of Regional Municipalities, Environment and Water Resources that this bird is alive.

And thanks to the dedicated group of volunteers, it will soon be able to fly,” Udaya said, adding that he was so moved by the efforts of the volunteers in rescuing the bird that he was already planning to join the group as a volunteer.

The rescue efforts also witnessed the presence of Rob’s wife Annabel, and his four children. “All of them have been part of earlier whale rescues. They are lovers of wildlife, and they are ready to contribute their mite to the environment and animal safety,” Rob said.

Published in Animals
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