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Essential first aid for birds of prey

WVI’s Raptor Rehabilitation programme is aimed at making sure the highest possible number of injured and poisoned birds not only survive treatment but can be successfully reintroduced to the wild, in order to stem dramatic drops in population numbers. When species numbers are low, every individual counts.

WVI has worked in India for a number of years, training local vets and providing essential first aid for the thousands of raptors injured by kite strings every year during the annual Kite-Flying Festival in the Gujarati city of Ahmadabad. Thanks to the growth in our experience and reputation in this area, we are now expanding our raptor rehabilitation work to help Endangered species in South Africa and Bulgaria. 

Raptors, or birds of prey, are persecuted throughout the world, both directly (mainly through hunting and poisoning of carcasses) and indirectly (through contact with kite strings, wind turbines, power cables and the drug diclofenac).

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For some species of vulture, numbers are so low that every individual counts. That means it’s vital to make every effort to save injured birds.

Training

WVI believes that effective training of local staff and volunteers on the ground is essential in order to increase the survival rate of injured or poisoned birds of prey, and to ensure that they are sufficiently fit when they are released back into the wild. We provide training in pre- and post-surgical treatment of birds, as well as in the surgical techniques themselves. 

This means, for example, helping develop appropriate Standard Operating Procedures which ensure that sub-cutaneous fluids are given when the (often severely dehydrated) birds, are first handled, or that birds are correctly tube fed following surgery.

Research

WVI believes on-going research is essential in order to further increase survival rates. In India, for example, vet nurse intern, Kiana McAbe, has been carrying out research into whether a simple initial blood test can be used to indicate a bird’s chances of survival in the short term. These results have the potential to determine which birds should receive the most intensive care in order to have the best chance of recovery and are expected to inform ongoing training of local staff in 2018.

Click on the flags to find out what we are doing to help birds of prey around the globe