All lives matter

Hello! Have any of you rescued an animal in distress? Well, just a few days ago, I was instrumental in rescuing a bird (I think a stork). This is a feel-good story, which I thought I’d share with you for the festive season. Read on…

The stork in happier days wading in the lake

It was not a pretty bird. Big, grey, with dull yellow eyes and a log, sharp beak, it lay by the side of the lake, evidently in pain, unable to move.

Someone walking by saw it, and gestured to the house-help in the garden nearby to do something about it. The house-help, a young woman in her mid-twenties, immediately came and carried the bird into the garden. This was a supremely brave thing to do, as the bird tried to viciously peck her with its beak. She threw a cloth over it and carried it gently and put it down on the lawn.

Her employers were away, so she quickly whatsapped her madam and asked what she should do.

This is where new-age technology came in. The lady (my neighbour) sent out an SOS on our Whatsapp group, asking someone to see the bird, and also see what they could do. And this is where I entered the picture.

The bird had a broken leg, and was lying on its side, its eyes closed. When I touched it, it opened one yellow eye and fluttered its wings. It may have been in great pain.The house-help brought some water for the bird, but its beak was clamped shut. It refused to drink.

In the meantime, the Whatsapp messages were piling up, about what to do and how to save the bird. Ants had begun crawling over the poor creature as it lay helplessly on its side, and we pushed them away with a piece of rag, all the while taking care not to get a vicious peck. Things were looking desperate. I called up a few vets, but they all said that they only treated cats and dogs. One of the vets helpfully suggested the Dubai Municipality number as the place to go.

The Dubai Municipality was my last resort. I called up, and a helpful voice put me on to the veterinary section. Through them, I was connected to the doctor who dealt with wild fowl. “Is this a wild bird? he asked me “We only deal with wild birds, and not the normal birds you see flying around.”

“I don’t know,” I replied. “OK, send me a picture, on Whatsapp.” I sent him a picture as asked, and yes, indeed it was a wild bird indigenous to this region – and therefore something that should be saved.

I heard the golden words, “I’m on my way.”

Those of us who don’t believe in authorities, who think that bureaucracies are just bumbling bastions of red tape (I admit I was one of them) will be pleasantly surprised at the speed at which Dubai Municipality acted. The van came after an hour or so (dreadful traffic jams at this time) and the assistant gently lifted the bird. It was so weak by this time that it did not have the strength to peck, .

Assistant gently lifting the bird

‘Do you have a carton?” he asked. We hastily pulled out a carton, but it was too small for such a large bird. It finally was put at the back of the van, and was on its way!

Bird being placed in carton

Well, what are the lessons learnt? First, don’t ever despair, but keep trying. Second, don’t think authorities are your enemies or just a pack of corrupt bureaucracy – they do come to the rescue. And third and most important, all lives matter, including this creature’s who is so important for the ecosystem.

Well, this is a feel-good story, and the real hero (or heroine) is the house-help who so bravely lifted the bird and had the presence of mind to call her owner. Have you had a similar experience in rescuing an animal in distress? I’d love to hear from you if you have. Also, if there is an ornithologist reading this, please tell me if this bird is indeed a stork.

Have a great festive season!