Seeing her in her black coat in the courtroom, you would never guess what her passion is when Adv Devika Bhagwat gets out of her lawyer’s uniform. Rescuing and rehabilitating injured birds! She has rescued and rehabilitated around 44 birds so far and now it has almost become second nature for her to spot birds in distress and take them into her care.
But her ultimate aspiration in this regard is much bigger… literally! Fighting for the rights of elephants, who are in the clutches of cruelty. She works as a lawyer for the Sharan For Animals group and she says, “I want to work for the welfare of elephants. Elephants are being misused for entertainment and amusement in circuses. Most of them are chained in temples and in zoos. I want to rescue them from this cruelty.”
The first bird
The first time Devika rescued an injured bird was a pigeon in 2014. The feeling was so overwhelming for her that it inspired her to continue saving birds whenever she got an opportunity. Among the many birds she has rescued so far have been a Coppersmith Barbet, Starling, Myna, Crimson-fronted Barbet, Bulbul, Horned Owl, Barn Owl, Kite and Parakeets.
Setting Parakeets free
Devika has rehabilitated 8 parakeets so far. Some of them were injured and some of them were caged. Devika says, “One Parakeet was injured due to electric shock. (See Pic) After initial first aid and treatment it healed. After learning to fly, it became capable of fending for itself. Thereafter I released it in the wild with the help of the forest department.”
Many people bring caged parakeets to her.
She says, “Some caged parakeets which were rescued were habituated to hand feeding. I had to teach them to fly and find their own food. Then I set them free.”
Fractured Barn Owl
Devika once rescued a Barn Owl which had suffered a fracture. She said, “Its leg was fractured. I took care of it for 3 months. After it recovered from the fracture, we trained it to fly, perch and identify its food. Then we released it in Trimbakeshwar. This silent predator of the night flew away happily. I had registered information about the owl with the forest department and also gave them periodical updates.”
Among the other birds which benefitted from her kindness was a One Horned Owl that had an injury on its neck and a Kite that was not able to fly. She rehabilitated them and made them capable of living in the wild.
Difficult to identify
Even after having rescued so many birds so far, Devika admits it is not easy to identify chicks that are very small. “Chicks of some species of birds look very similar at early stages and it is difficult to identify immediately which bird it is exactly,” she says.
“Recently a Baya Weaver chick fell from its nest near Gangapur Road. One gentleman picked it up and called me. Initially, we tried to find its nest, but we could not. This chick lacked the energy to fly, so I got it home. I fed it crushed bajri and food powder. Now it is learning to fly. But when I first saw it, I was not sure whether it was a Muniya or a Baya Weaver chick. It was too small to identify,” she shares with a lot of enthusiasm.
Her school, where
it all began
Devika reveals that it was probably her school here in Nashik, The Dawn Breakers, that laid the foundation in her heart for the work she is doing now.
Recalling her childhood days, she says, “Online games were a far cry in those days. But we had a horse riding club for students in our school and I enjoyed horse riding. We were lucky as there were cows and hens in our school. It was this small animal kingdom which kindled compassion in me. I learnt the basics of animal welfare there. I could enjoy the company of these lovely animals till Grade 4. Thereafter, the school sadly shifted them to another place.”
Last year, the school had organised a Pet Together programme to encourage students to understand welfare of animals. Devika was invited to deliver a lecture to raise awareness. It was naturally a proud moment for her.