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Plastic ring locks stork’s beak, rescue op on to save starving bird

Chandigarh: A starving stork with its beak jammed by a plastic ring around it and without food or water for two days has triggered ​off a massive rescue operation by forest officials in Najafgarh, Haryana, a media report said.

Every hour’s delay is pushing the bird closer to death, experts said on Saturday as attempts to save the black-necked stork turned frantic, The Tribune reported.

Home to the ​ephippiorhynchus asiaticus species, the Najafgarh lake on the fringes of south-west Delhi sees droves of these being followed by bird watchers. One of them recently spotted the helpless bird and alerted officials. They are now trying to keep the bird from flying away. But it’s a challenge. “If that happens, the bird will certainly die,” a worried expert said.

Appalled ​at huge heaps of plastic waste dumped close to the wetland, the Haryana Pollution Control Board has issued a notice to the ​municipal ​corporation​ of Gurugram (MCG)​ for ​its ​failure to keep the area clean​. The owner of the private property ​where the plastic has accumulated has also been told to clear it within 24 hours, failing which penalties will be imposed, the report said.

S. Narayanan, ​member ​secretary of the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB)​,​ told The Tribune ​on Saturday ​that the matter has been taken up with the local administration and the SDM, Gurugram​,​ ​h​as assured ​full cooperation and help in both the rescu​e operation ​and cleaning up of the swathe that is endangering wild life, the report said.

​Additional Chief Conservator of Forests (Haryana) Vinod Kumar​ ​said three teams ​are keeping a close watch on the bird​. While a group from the Bombay National History Society (BNHS) is monitoring the activity of the bird, two other teams from the ​Wildlife ​Department and Forest Department are providing logistic​​ support, the report said.

Kumar said ​the ​bird ​“​looked a little week this morning​”​ and was seen making unsuccessful attempts at removing the plastic ​ring from its beak. ​“​It tried to catch a fish, which it did manage, but could not hold ​on for long​. The fish ​soon ​slipped back into the water​,” Kumar said, adding, “The bird has ​gone without food and water for ​two days now. We are hoping that it will soon get exhausted and weak and slow down, making it easy for the teams to catch it​.​”

​Vivek Saxena, Chief Conservator of Forests (Haryana), added that rescue teams are ​barely 100 metre ​or so ​away from the bird​, taking care not to scare it. “The bird​, which falls in the near-threatened category of ​species, has so far remained in the Basai wetland, flying from place to place in the Najafgarh and Sultanpur area​,” he said. ​

Professional birders have been taking pictures of the ​stork since Thursday ​and are circulating it online ​to ​generat​e awareness about the plight of the bird and the threat to wildlife in the area. ​Some of them said ​the predicament of the bird is also a telling statement on what plastic is doing to the environment, The Tribune reported.

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