Wildlife Rescues Told by ACRES Volunteers (Part 2)
Stories contributed by Carmen, Waran and Rahul Gokhale
From an olive-backed sunbird stuck in between a gate and a door, to a reticulated python found submerged in a pool of mud — OWN had the pleasure to document the rescue stories by Serene, Arif and Carmen in our previous post: Wildlife Rescues told by ACRES Volunteers (Part 1)
In this second part, we have two more rescue and release stories from Carmen and some unique cases told by Waran and Rahul!
Lesser dog-faced fruit bats (Cynopterus brachyotis) can be commonly found roosting and flying around residential areas, especially where there are plenty of fruiting trees. Living in such close proximity to urban spaces, bats sometimes find themselves stuck in between structures or grounded on the floor.
Once, Carmen received a call for a stranded bat in a studyroom. The caller did not gave it much thought at first and assumed the bat would find its way out. Two days went by and the bat remained. The caller shared with Carmen that he had observed another bat visiting his room for the past few nights and it even hung around for awhile.
When the rescue team arrived, they heard the bat before they could see it. After tracking down the sound, they found it hidden behind the desk, clinging on to the curtain. After rescuing the young bat from the room, they made their way down to the ground floor to attempt a reunion. In just a couple of minutes, an adult appeared and was circling around Carmen as she held on to the juvenile. Considering that the young bat was old enough to cling on to a tree trunk, she placed the bat there and hoped for the best. Although the adult’s first attempt to pick up its young failed, the second was a success!
This story of a mother bat efforts to save her young is an example as to why we should never keep a young wild animal even if it is with the best intention. The parents might be nearby and very much like humans, they care for their young and would almost always attempt to come back for them when they are separated. The caller did the right thing to ask ACRES for assistance!
In yet another common palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) rescue (read the other in Part 1), Carmen received a call for a juvenile civet that had fallen through a ceiling board in the storeroom. The rescue was quick as the civet simply went into a spare bin before it was transferred into a carrier. Thanks to the understanding landowners, who just wanted the animal out of the building, the nocturnal mammal was then brought outside and released within the compound.
It never gets old watching wild animals being released back into their natural habitat!
Similar to Carmen, Waran began his volunteering journey with ACRES way back in 2016 and has remained just as committed to rescuing wildlife today as he has been years before.
“ACRES was the only non-profit charity in Singapore dedicated to all wildlife at the time I joined. I have tremendous interest towards wildlife and their place in the ecosystem. ACRES was able to give me the exposure, knowledge and hands-on experience to engage and educate the public. ACRES is like a family filled with like minded people who are passionate and driven for the same cause. The satisfaction of helping a fellow being in need, educating the public and changing their perspective keeps me coming back.”
Waran had done countless reptile rescues but one stood out in particular. It is not uncommon for wildlife rescue volunteers to find themselves in a case that involves rescuing both the wild animal and the callers who dialed the ACRES hotline for help.
When Waran was called to attend to a case involving a juvenile clouded monitor lizard on the caller’s two-story landed property staircase, he found the entire family — parents and two young daughters — “stuck” on the second floor. Unsure of the monitor lizard’s behaviour, they were too frightened to open their front door, leaving the rescue team locked outside when they arrived.
When the team finally got into the household, Waran effortlessly picked up the monitor lizard. The rescue was swift and gentle. After observing how calm the rescue volunteers and the reptile were, the family approached Waran and the lizard. The family was no longer fearful after learning that the lizard was of no threat and eventually decided to release it at their garden to wander free again.
It was an unexpected but absolutely wonderful turn of events. It is instances like this that motivates ACRES volunteers. Waran makes it a point to always empower callers with knowledge on our wild neighbours. As long as we are mindful and responsible with our interactions with wildlife, we need not fear them. He shares that wild animals are never out to harm people unnecessarily and more often than not, they are afraid of humans and would prefer to be left alone.
“They are a fellow being on earth just like us human beings, we have to respect and understand that.”
Sometimes, they find themselves in an unfamiliar environment, just like the monitor lizard, and they require some help to find their way back to their natural habitat.
“In this case of the monitor, the public only had to show him the way out, they will always go in the direction of our approach (away from you). In any case if it's too daunting or challenging, call ACRES.”
Waran also emphasized that wild animals are driven by food. To reduce the chances of wildlife encounters in your property or neighbourhood, simply practice proper waste management. When food waste is disposed of in tightly sealed bins and wild animals have no access to its contents, there will be no reason for them to stay or return. Wildlife exclusion can be simple and easy!
Rahul started volunteering with ACRES in early 2022.
“I've always been passionate about wildlife and wildlife conservation. I had a couple of encounters with ACRES and they were very positive. What keeps me motivated is the fact that we are able to move the needle on wildlife conservation and welfare in Singapore (even if it's by a little) and our work has tangible impact every day.”
When asked what was his most memorable story to date, Rahul shared about his black-winged kite rescue. The black-winged kite (Varanus nebulosus), a beautiful raptor with stark red iris, is an uncommon resident bird in Singapore.
The bird was found dangling on a tree, approximately 20m above ground, in a partially wooded area in the eastern area of Singapore. Considering that the location was in close proximity to a beach, the most plausible scenario was that the bird’s wings and body had already been entangled with the fishing line before landing on the tree.
The initial plan was to attach a small saw to the end of a 15m telescopic pole but the length of the pole alone was not enough to reach the bird. They then used a ladder to gain an extra 5m to reach the fishing line and after a total of 1.5 hours, the fishing line finally snapped and the bird fell. Thankfully, the fall was cushioned by the dense vegetation.
It took a team of three wildlife rescue volunteers to successfully bring the bird down to safety and a lot of tender loving care from ACRES animal care team to rehabilitate the raptor before she could be released back into the wilderness.
When it comes to wildlife rescues, nothing beats release and reunion stories. Wild animals may sometimes end up in unexpected situations from living in such a highly built environment and it is volunteers like Serene, Arif, Carmen, Waran and Rahul who help ensure our wildlife are safe.
Kudos to ACRES wildlife rescue volunteers who are always ready to rise to the occasion and offer their help to wild animals in need!
Are you inspired? Would you like to join them in their selfless acts, promote #coexistence and educate the public on how we can be responsible neighbours? CLICK HERE to sign-up as an ACRES wildlife rescue volunteer.