15 Jul 2010

Another success story of raptor rehabilitation in Thailand

On March 23, 2010, Center of Wildlife Rescue Coordination, Wildlife Conservation Office, Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) brought a Brahminy Kite to Kasetsart University Raptor Rehabilitation Center (KURRU) for rehabilitation and release to the wild. This Brahminy Kite was a juvenile female aged 8-16 months old, which could be seen from its appearance in mostly adult plumage with only a few immature feathers remaining. It had wounds at carpal bones with torn primaries and tail feathers, diminishing its flight ability. KURRU registered it with a code KU 72, the 72nd raptor it accepted, and began rehabilitation process. In early May, its bad primaries were taken off to stimulate growth of new primaries which are key to its flight ability. This rehabilitation method helped reduce time it needed to be kept in captivity and speed up flight training, so that it can be released faster. In mid June, new primaries had been in place and the kite was moved to a flight enclosure for exercise and flight practice. It was then expected that this raptor could be released in a couple of months. However, in early July, it was found to be already healthy and be able to fly very well. KURRU then requested a permission from DNP for its release to the wild. KU 72 was released on Saturday July 10, 2010, at mangrove forest in the area of a Royal Initiative Project at Laem Phak Bia, Baan Laem District of Phetchaburi Province, about 100 Km. south of Bangkok. The release was officially witnessed by Mr. Wararit Nilphueng, Head of Khao Tao Mor – Khao Krapuk Non-Hunting Area, in Thayang District, Phetchaburi Province, who represented the DNP. Other witnesses were bird watchers/photographers from Lanna Bird and Nature Conservation Club in Chiangmai Province who were coincidentally there. This is another success story of raptor rehabilitation by KURRU which has been in operation from early 2008. KU 72 has been rehabilitated to its full strength as observed from difficulty, KU Vet. student volunteers found in catching and moving it from the flight enclosure to a transfer cage. Being released by the Non-Hunting Area Head, it flew deftly into the sky, glided for a while and disappeared into the mangrove forest. The raptor needed to survey the area until it knew the site and could feed on its own. Mangrove forest in the Royal Initiative Project area has plenty food for Brahminy Kite and safe from hunting – the main reasons for releasing it there. Brahminy Kite in general feeds on fish or scavenges on floating debris in coastal areas, mangroves, larger rivers, lakes and reservoirs in plains, and around islands and the edges of towns. It is a common resident, often found in certain areas. If a Brahminy Kite with a metal ring on its right leg is observed at the mangrove or nearby, please report the date, location and its behaviours to Dr. Chaiyan Kasorndorkbua, KURRU Head, at, View video showing the release of KU 72 here and more photographs here About KURRU KURRU was established as a formal collaboration between the Kasetsart University’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, and Bird Conservation Society of Thailand (BirdLife Thailand). KURRU needs continuous supports to cover costs for medical examination and treatment of sick raptors, food, cage maintenance and allowances for staff. Keeping a small raptor (owl or kite) and a large raptor (vulture or eagle) costs about 4,400 and 7,700 Baht/year respectively. Till July 2010, KURRU have already received 78 raptors, 68 were taken into rehabilitation, of which 36 were fully rehabilitated and successfully released to the wild, 23 died of serious injuries or illness, and 9 had their lives saved but are disabled or totally lost their wildlife instinct, could not be released to the wild and would to be kept in captivity for life for studies as a “living textbook” as KURRU does not favour mercy killing. For more information and to make a donation, contact Dr. Chaiyan Kasorndorkbua, KURRU Head, at, by Gawin Chutima Chairman, Bird Conservation Society of Thailand (BirdLife in Thailand)