In a rare rescue operation in the state, the Haryana Forest Department spent as many as five days chasing a black-necked stork whose beak had got stuck in a plastic ring and then set it free after treatment in Sultanpur National Park, Gurugram.

It was on 7 June when a Delhi-based bird watcher, Manoj Nair, first spotted the bird with a  plastic ring on its beak at Gurugram’s Basai Najafgarh wetlands.  This ring, used for holding the cap of beverage bottles, apparently got stuck in the stork’s beak when the bird was fishing. It sealed the migratory bird’s beak and it was unable to eat ever since but apparently survived by wetting its beak.

After the forest and wildlife officials were informed and pictures of the bird with the ring on its beak went viral, a rescue operation was launched on 8 June by the Haryana wildlife and forest departments with the help of Bombay Natural History Society in Basai wetland of Najafgarh and Sultanpur with the help of a drone and other means like field scope and bamboo trap .

After playing hide and seek with the rescue teams for five days since 8 June, the bird was finally caught on 12 June after its movements slowed due to exhaustion. Once caught, the rescue team removed the ring  and mud as well as  garbage which had got stored in the lower portion of the stork’s beak.

The bird was then kept under observation as it had become weak due to lack of food for over six days. Medical attention, including infusion of electrolytes, helped the bird regain its strength within two days following which it was set free after treatment in Sultanpur National Park, Gurugram, on 15 June. Haryana forest minister Rao Narbir Singh, who set the bird free, said birds of this kind of species were becoming extinct and should be saved.

A bird watcher posted the photo of the injured bird on his Facebook wall and the wildlife team did a commendable job saving its life. The whole process to save the bird took about 150 hours. Now that the ring has been removed, and treatment given to the bird, it is quite normal and has been set free, the minister added.

This rescue operation has also drawn the government’s attention towards garbage and plastic dump near Basai wetlands posing a serious threat to the environment and the wildlife. The plastic ring that got stuck on the stork’s beak was part of a dump of used plastic bottles there.

After environment minister Vipul Goel took note of the plastic dump, the Gurugram district administration and civic authorities were told to remove the plastic waste and send it to Bandhwari plant for treatment as per norms.