TELEVISION vet Steve Leonard has paid a visit to India for an upcoming series to lend a helping hand to birds injured as a result of a traditional festival involving kites.
Steve, from Aston, headed to the International Kite Festival 2014 in Ahmedabad in January to help out with volunteers involved in the ‘Kite Project’ as part of a new BBC series set to be shown later this year.
The festival is incredibly popular but comes with a downside as birds – including pigeons and rare black vultures – get caught up in the kites ‘chessewire’ type string as they fly through the air, leaving the birds with muscle damage to wings and in some cases near decapitation.
Steve has recently been in the public eye with his prime time ITV wildlife series Nature’s Newborns as well as carrying out his veterinary duties at his practice in Wistaston.
He told the Guardian he made the trip via the charity Wildlife Vets Interntational, which has been funding the work being carried out by volunteers to treat the injured birds.
“The kites are only made of bamboo but they can fly 100m up in the air,” he said.
“But the string cuts through the birds wings and muscle and they fall down to the ground so a charity project was set up to rescue and treat them back to health.
“Up to 80 per cent of the birds they rescue have been put back into the wild. Almost 3,000 birds were treated in a six day period.”
Steve said his trip to India enabled him to see the work that had been going on thanks to the charity’s funding.
“It was very pleasing to see the level of treatment they are able to do with the training that has been provided by the charity,” he added.
“I’ve never seen anything like this in terms of scale and I’ve seen loads of rescue intitiatives but never seen that number of animals being treated at the same time. It is all staffed by volunteers who go through the night doing complicated surgery.
“But the whole city ramps itself up for the festival and they go on the roof flying their kites – it’s the most amazing spectacle.”