Spotlight China: Celebrating the Beijing Raptor Rescue Center’s ten-year anniversary

IFAW CEO Fred O'Regan addresses the gathering at the Beijing Raptor Rescue Center 10th Anniversary event.I was in Beijing last week to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s Beijing Raptor Rescue Center, China’s only raptor rescue and rehabilitation facility. I was extremely proud to participate in the recognition of the center for its fantastic work.

IFAW and the Beijing Normal University established the center on the campus of BNU in December 2001. It has been a decade full of success stories—a decade in which we have rescued more than 3,300 hawks, eagles, owls, vultures and other magnificent birds of prey.

The Center cares for sick, injured and orphaned wild birds of prey as well as those seized from illegal traders. The BRRC staff also educates people in the Beijing area about threats to wildlife and provides information to the authorities to aid in developing conservation policy and improving law enforcement.

Through that combined approach, the Beijing Raptor Rescue Center embodies IFAW’s belief that the welfare of individual animals, their populations and their habitats are inherently linked.

Rehabilitating injured animals is difficult and dedicated staff are constantly innovating new techniques. Under the compassionate care of IFAW staff rehabilitators, 67 percent of birds were successfully released in 2010; that’s an amazing step up compared to the already stellar 54 percent release rate averaged over 10 years.

The rehabilitators assess each bird’s medical, nutritional, behavioral and social needs and then map out a plan of treatment. When the birds are healthy and have developed the survival skills they need, the rehabilitators release the birds into their natural habitats, at times, many miles away from Beijing.

IFAW Asia Regional Director Grace Ge Gabriel unveils the new BRRC Golden Eagle with guests at the 10th anniversary ceremony.Government officials, conservationists, animal rescuers, celebrities and others joined IFAW staff and me to celebrate the BRRC’s 10 years of terrific work. The participants recounted the development of BRRC and told moving stories about the plight of animals, especially those that fall victim to ill-considered human activities and the heroic efforts to rescue and rehabilitate these regal birds.

Capping off the celebration, Yuan Xikun, a well-known artist and sculptor, unveiled his latest work--a sculpture of a golden eagle in honour of BRRC--which will be permanently installed at BNU.

This celebration is not the first time the BRRC has been recognized for its stellar work in wildlife rescue and rehabilitation.

In May 2011, the State Forestry Administration of China acknowledged BRRC with an "Outstanding Organization for Forest and Wildlife Conservation" award at a ceremony in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Forty-two organizations and 42 individuals were selected among hundreds of candidates across China to receive the award. I’m very proud to say that IFAW BRRC was the only non-governmental organization in China recognized for its contribution to the protection of birds of prey.

You can help in the preservation of raptors where you live. If you see one that has been injured or orphaned, contact your local raptor rescue center. Whatever you do, don’t try to rescue the bird yourself. These majestic birds need the sort of professional care that centers like IFAW’s BRRC can provide.

-- FO

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