The baby white bellied heron will need another two months of the puppet mum’s care before it can be released into the wild
When a White Bellied Heron egg taken into captivity by the Royal Society of Protection of Nature (RSPN) hatched, the staff there found an ingenious method of feed the chick.
A homemade White Bellied Heron puppet, made from a gray sock with small eyes and a pair of tweezers as a beak now feeds the 14 day-old chick.
The chick is fed thrice a day using the puppet so that the chick doesn’t get used to human contact. “We are using a puppet to feed the chick so that when the time comes for the chick to be released into the wild it will not be attached to humans,” said Ecologist Rebecca Pradhan of RSPN.
The chick was born on May 7 at the hatchery house by Phochu in Punakha at around 5:50 am. It weighed 54.9 grams. Today the chick weighs around 212.1 grams and is growing fast. “The chick is growing very well and healthy and this is a good sign,” said Rebecca Pradhan.
The chick will need another two months of puppet nursing care before it can be released into the wild.
“After 71 to 73 days of rearing of the chick it will be released into the wild. It has been 14 days as of today since the chick was born,” said Rebecca Pradhan.
The gender of the chick is not known as little research has been done on the bird’s gender. It will take another two years to confirm whether it’s a male or a female.
The white bellied heron is a critically endangered species as per the IUCN’s category (2007). With the current global population estimated to be less than 200 of which Bhutan has 26 numbers. Bhutan is the first country in the world to initiate such a project to save the White Bellied Heron from extinction.
In a hope to recover the decreasing population of the bird, RSPN in collaboration with the Department of Livestock and Department of Forests and Park Services have undertaken this captive-rearing. This is also expected to address the high mortality rates at its infant period due to predation and other calamities such as forest fires
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park in USA which is well known for recovery of similar kind of endangered species is helping RSPN in the project.