Two days after it was relieved of a rubber ring that had lodged itself around its beak, preventing consumption of food, a black necked stork was released back into the wild on Friday morning, taking its first steps out of the cage around 9 am, and walking on the foliage at the Sultanpur National Park in Gurgaon.
After two days of being kept under observation, however, the bird – a male member of the species – had to be coaxed into wandering further away from the cage, where he had been lodged since Wednesday, as officials waited for him to regain strength.
“The bird was healthy when it was rescued, but was a little weak. We were waiting for it to completely regain strength before releasing it and leaving it to fend for itself.” Said Vinod Kumar, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Administration).
The stork eventually disappeared from view at the park around 9.20 am, moments after he was picked up a couple of steps away from the cage, where he had seated himself after being released, and carried a few metres away, deeper into the park, from where he walked into the bushes.
The bird, which is a sub adult of around two years of age, has also been ringed – with a yellow ring that has K16 written on it – so that it can be tracked in the future.
The stork had first been spotted with what was, at the time, believed to be a plastic ring from a water bottle, around its beak, last Thursday. Following the discovery, a week of frantic search and rescue attempts followed, as both birders and officials were concerned he would die of starvation – with the ring preventing him from opening his beak and consuming food.
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Methods that were adopted, such as camouflage, bamboo traps, and drones, however, proved to be unsuccessful. While camouflage failed because a lapwing gave those attempting it away, warning the stork off, the bamboo traps failed because the bird was too far away.
Drones were successful in bring him closer to rescue teams, but their noise distracted other birds as well, preventing success. Officials said that some high tension wires were also hindering the use of drones for rescue by interfering with the signal.
He was finally rescued on Wednesday morning, when a team of officials and birders took advantage of his depleting energy levels, and chased him for around three kilometers, before they were able to capture him and remove the ring from his beak.
He was released on Friday morning in the presence of Haryana Forest Minister, Rao Narbir Singh.