Rescue Stories from the Beijing Raptor Rescue Center - #1
Guard for the “Big Bird"
The following is a report from the IFAW Beijing Rescue Center. Regularly the rescue team receives calls from local villages about injured wildlife. They have many successes and so many wonderful stories, I hope to share at least one with you per week!
On the morning of September 4, 2006, BRRC received a call from Qiu Qingyou, chief security guard for a residential area in Xiaoying Street, Beijing. Mr. Qiu told us that a big bird with outstretched wings measuring more than two meters had been spotted in their neighborhood. Based on his description of the bird as well as considering the season of the year, we came to the initial conclusion that this bird may be an upland buzzard. Mr Qiu thought this bird was possibly injured; otherwise it would not stay in a place with so many people. With our bird capturing gear, we immediately drove there as quickly as we could, accompanied by interested journalists. The reporters not only were interested in the fate of this big bird, they also hoped that their reporting of this story would draw public attention to the need to protect birds.
With Mr. Qiu leading the way, BRRC staff members found the big bird as soon as we got there. BRRC staff recognized it as a buzzard, a raptor that winters in Beijing. What surprised us was that this bird did not seem the least bit scared about being surrounded by a large crowd of people. Was this a captive-raised bird that had escaped? Yes! We discovered an identifying band on its leg that showed it was a tame bird!
Mr Qiu said: “The big bird landed atop the perimeter the wall of our neighborhood. I thought it might be injured, so I went over to take a closer look. It didn’t try to flee and I caught it quite easily. I thought it was probably a protected animal, so I immediately called 114 to get your telephone number. I didn’t think you’d get here so fast. ” While the reporters interviewed Mr. Qiu, BRRC staff quickly examined the buzzard. Fortunately, its only injuries were some abrasions on its feet.
In China, despite the fact that all raptors are under first-class and second-class protection by national law, people still illegally capture and domesticate them. According to a recent survey, the BRRC each year takes in several dozen captive-bred or captured raptors. Due to improper care, these birds are usually in poor health. More worrying is that many hand-reared raptors not only lost their “wildness” but also became totally dependent on humans, making them harder to release into the wild.
As is our practice, we awarded a “Certificate of Raptor Rescue” to Mr. Qiu, who expressed the hope that with our help, this buzzard could be returned to the bird could be released back into the wild as quickly as possible. Through the news reports by the journalists who accompanied us, we also urged the public: NEVER try to raise any raptors. If you like them, let them go, let them fly in the sky, high and free. Nature is the only true home to all raptors!
After more than a month of attentive and comprehensive care by the BRRC staff, the buzzard was restored to health, even losing some of its extra weight. What delighted us most was that gradually it recovered its wild nature and became less dependent on people. In due time, when it has completely recovered, we will release this buzzard to the wild.