The only Bird Ambulance service in India on a cycle is pioneered by a 50 year old Social Worker Prince Mehra aka Manjeet Singh.
Prince Mehra’s love for birds nudged him into this unique idea of rescuing birds and providing them free burial service.
Previously, a freelance signboard painter and now a full-time animal attendant at HSPA hospital in Chandigarh, Prince Mehra launched the 1st bird ambulance service of the country to provide medical aid to injured birds. And birds that are found dead on the roads, their corpses are buried by him. “Birds also deserve a dignified burial” he feels.
Local residents call him on his contact number printed on a handmade first-aid pannier box. Or else, he moves around in the city to check for injured birds or dead corpses on his own.
“In 2011, I had gone to Ferozpur and there I saw a waste collector disposing corpses of two pigeons in a dustbin. I took the corpses to the nearest open ground, dug a pit and buried them. That night I kept thinking about the unethical ways with which we are treating animals. Additionally, improper disposals also increase chances of disease spread”.
After 4 days of reasoning, Prince Mehra decided to convert his bicycle into a Bird Ambulance.
To publicize his noble mission, he has displayed social messages permanently fixed onto his tandem bicycle. “I invest 20-30% of my monthly earnings to buy printing material which I distribute to the local public” says Mehra.
On spotting a dead carcass, Prince Mehra digs up a small pit in the nearby location where the carcass is found and buries them. In-case of a minor injury, the bird is taken home where is has made provision for medical aid. Birds that are found in serious condition are taken to the animal hospital for recovery.
“Majority of calls are received in summer and those are of dehydration cases. To counter this, I have even distributed mud pots to street vendors and requested them to fill water in them daily” says Mehra.
Prince is highly respected in the community for his selfless act of humanity. “Since the start of the Bird Ambulance service, I have cremated over 1100 birds , and released over 1200 birds after treating them” he explains.
His compelling story is carried by TV channels and media houses. As a result, he gets calls from distant places. “I guide them over the phone since I can’t reach far-off places on time with my cycle. Due to the publicity, people have started to take care of the birds, including kids” he adds.
The National Bird Day is observed on 5th January and on this day Prince Mehra conducts prayers for the repose of the souls.
No wonder, he is referred as the ‘Bird Man of India’.
For his exemplary idea of Cycle Bird Ambulance, Prince Mehra has received a number of awards by national and international institutions. His work is certified by 22 different World Record keeping agencies and finds his name published in 32 books.
- 6 International awards
- 3 National awards
- 1 State award
- 90 other awards by various institutions
Back in 1990, Prince Mehra joined the NGO Yuvsatta. Later on, he has devoted his life for welfare of environment. He takes inspiration from a notable environmentalist Sunderlal Bahugana, the leader of forest conservation movement called the Chipko Movement.
Sunderlal would visit the Yuvsatta NGO for campaign discussions and that’s how Prince Mehra came into his contact and got impressed by his work.
Prince Mehra has contributed to several environmental causes while working with the Yuvsatta, and has been a cycling since 1990.
Prince believes “Cycle is a green transport and does not pollute. I had received this tandem bicycle as gift from my senior at Yuvsatta. It has fulfilled my transport needs since last 30 years and earned me respect. Why do I need a car?
“Had you not been into cycling, we wouldn’t have know each other” I replied!
Do you have a Cycle Bird Ambulance in your city?
Image credits: Prince Mehra
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Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai