Their journey began out of a need for veterinary care for birds of prey and watching them die on the streets, uncared for. Today, Nadeem Shehzad and Mohammad Saud have saved more than 5000 predatory birds, become experts on avian surgeries and run a rooftop hospital at their residence! Read to find out more about their incredible work.
Since more than a decade now, Nadeem Shehzad (36) and Mohammad Saud (32) have been saving birds of prey on their rooftop-turned-shelter in Chawri Bazaar, old Delhi. They run a 24-hour bird rescue organisation that provides medical treatment and shelter to predatory birds. The brothers started the service in 2003, when they found an injured black kite and took it to the Jain Bird Hospital in Chandni Chowk. Unfortunately, since the bird hospital was in a temple, they refused to treat the injured carnivorous bird. So the brothers convinced the vet to pay the bird home visits, and finally released it after it fully recovered.
Since that lone kite, they have sheltered, treated and looked after about 5000 raptor birds such as owls, eagles, kites, hawks and the occasional endangered vulture. Even without any formal training, they have learned to fix bones using steel wires, stitch wounds using absorbable thread, perform complicated surgeries and even prescribe medicines simply by observing veterinarians over the years.
Funds are a major concern for the brothers as their business is dying and their professional lives are coming to an end because of their involvement with conservation. It has been more than a decade, but still, 95% of the expenses in their rescue efforts go out of their own pockets.
With our experience, we discovered that veterinarians did not have the required knowledge on birds, so we did not have anyone to go to and look up for help. Either we had to perform surgeries on the wounded bird ourselves or watch it die. This made us experts in avian orthopedic surgery.
Interestingly, without being veterinarians professionally, they have managed to learn how to treat the birds through books and consulting doctors. They run a family business of making metallic soap dispensers and fountain nozzles and manage funds from this. Today, many wildlife organizations call them for help every day! They can operate on the birds, stitch their wounds and heal them. With almost no monetary support, their motorcycle operates as an ambulance and the rooftop of their home as their ‘little hospital’. They have already registered for a bird rescue organization, “Wildlife Rescue”, and have launched 24X7 bird rescue helplines.
Their work has been covered by some national and international media, and they were recently awarded the Wipro-NFS Sparrow Award. They were quite amused on receiving the Sparrow Award “since they work on Sparrow Hawks who eats Sparrows”, they joked.
Raising money is a major hurdle in their efforts and for them; the need of the hour is to make their organization self-sustaining so it keeps on functioning without their help. They believe that with no facility for birds of prey, it is their moral responsibility to do something for these birds:
“The fact that these birds will come to a slow painful death without our help as they have nowhere to go and no one to take care of them, keeps us going. We want to start a proper rescue center with international standards.”
We hope they can give wings to their dream as well!
Mohammad and Nadeem can be contacted at +91 9810129698.