Raptor keepers

Nadeem Shehzad and Muhammad Saud rescue and treat injured birds at home

For Nadeem Shehzad and Muhammad Saud, who have so far rescued more than 4,000 birds and are providing shelter to around 130 in their home, wildlife rescue is an addiction. The rescue shelter is on the terrace of their home in Chawri Bazaar. Some of the raptors are kept in their room too. A falcon, undergoing treatment, is in their drawing room and two sparrow hawks and an owl in another room.

They have been rescuing birds and animals since childhood, when they used to take them to hospital. The brothers took up the task of treating birds, even performing surgical procedures. "As there are no hospitals or doctors for them, we decided to help them. We learned from other doctors but mostly we learned from Internet and books," says 35-year-old Shehzad.

Most of the cases are of black kites sustaining cuts from strings. The treatment costs them around Rs 400 for a bird on an average. "The threads used to stitch the wound are dissolvable. They are also given antibiotic injections," says Saud.

One of the most difficult cases was of a steppe eagle, a migratory bird weighing 4.5 kg, having multiple injuries. The bird was getting violent and they did not have the experience or equipment to treat it. After giving temporary treatment, they handed it over to the Delhi Zoo. Once, the duo even "performed a delivery" on a black kite which was unable to lay an egg, a condition known as egg binding. Surgical procedures are done at their shop. They manufacture steel soap dispensers and use stainless steel to fix broken bones. They receive four-five 'patients' daily and spend five-six hours on them. They have helpline numbers to rescue raptors.

Even though they have set up a cage for the birds, it is left open from the top so that birds can go whenever they want. Nadeem, who has been an honorary wildlife warden, considers it wrong to confine a bird to a cage. "They have a life and should be free to live it," he says.

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