What should civilians do on finding injured wildlife?- Explains Silchar's Salma Sultana
An injured animal will be lucky to have you as its rescuer only if you know the right steps you can take. It can mean the difference between life and death.
While compassion is a great virtue, it is extremely important to understand that wild animals behave differently than animals that live around people. Injured wild animals get stressed out very quickly. It is very important to handle them carefully without causing a lot of noise.
First, one needs to decide if the animal actually needs help. Once you are sure that the animal needs assistance (you see blood, injury marks, unusual behaviour like limping or a dead adult nearby), the first thing you should do is try and vacate some space around the animal, free from people or other animals. If the injured animal is located on, or near, a road, then blocking the road and guiding traffic around it is an important step.
Do not go near or touch the animal immediately. It is better to assess the condition of the animal. Trying to move or going near injured animals causes them more stress and they might panic.
Remember, they don’t know you are trying to help them and, if capable, they may bite or attack you out of pain/fear. The additional stress can also worsen their condition.
Especially in cases of larger animals such as deer, jackal, small cats, birds of prey, large water-fowl and snakes, never handle without proper training and equipment, you can hurt yourself and put them at risk of further injury.
Things to do:
Immediately contact local officials of the Forest Department for assistance. If you’re unable to reach them, try to contact a veterinarian, animal shelters or local NGOs. (You can call 7002741667 – protection squad range officer for Cachar)
The faster you can get the animal to the experts, the more likely it will survive. Delay can also cause drop in body temperature or infection.
On contacting experts, describe the condition of the injured animal, its location and the situation as accurately as possible. The forest department might be able to give you advice or send someone to help.
Ask them for directions if you need to do something immediately. Follow their advice. Based on their guidance, to provide shelter, it is best to get the animal into a dark, dry and quiet place away from people and other animals.
Do not offer any food or water as wild animals have specific diets, plus feeding an animal suffering from shock actually makes matters worse. It could be the wrong food and results in suffocation, trigger digestive problems or cause pneumonia. So, we should never attempt to force feed an animal.
Do not try and take the animal into your own care, you need to have permission from forest department to be able to look after a wild animal. To care for one without permission is illegal.
Finally, stay calm through the process, and always remember every EVERY WILD LIFE MATTERS.
With a Masters degree in Environmental Biology and Wildlife Sciences, the author has a passion for natural world. She wants to live a life in the wilderness, watching birds, photographing them.