By Bellie Thomas
Bengaluru: The forest cell volunteers of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), who rescued a black kite from the compound of Hypercity Supermarket in Kundalahalli on Tuesday, discovered that the bird’s beak and claws were cut off intentionally by someone. Its tail was also cut to stop it from flying.
The tortured kite was being attacked by several crows, when it was spotted by an employee of the supermarket, who promptly called up the forest cell volunteers. The bird was initially treated by a doctor and was then shifted to the Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation Centre (WRRC) in Bannerghatta.
Forest officials confirmed that this bird was being used as an object in black magic. “This is not the first case that we have stumbled on rescuing black kites with chopped claws, broken beaks and their tails cut. These birds, which are protected under Schedule 1 of Wildlife Protection Act 1972, are being widely used for black magic because of their aggressive looks, shrill voice, black eyes and other features,” said a Range Officer, Ganesh from the Headquaters at Aranya Bhavan, Malleswaram.
“In the year 2010, we had arrested a Tamil Swami from the Kalyan Nagar slum in Hennur-Banaswadi, who had held around 10 black kites in captivity, of which five of them had their claws and beaks cut off and was practicing black magic with these birds,” Ganesh added. He was then posted as Range Forest Officer, (RFO) K.R. Puram. We conducted a raid on credible information and a case under Wildlife Protection Act was registered against him and he was arrested. The birds were rescued, he added.
“On questioning, swami revealed details regarding the ritual. For a complete ritual, he charges somewhere around Rs 5,000, where the client is made to believe that the kite represents his problems. He goes on with his rituals, lighting lamps, chanting mantras, walking around with the bird whose claws, beaks and tail are cut and after the ritual is over, the bird is abandoned at the house of the person against whom the black magic is done,” said the range officer.
Without claws and beaks the hapless birds are left to fend themselves. They neither eat and drink nor protect itself from its predators. The get attacked by dogs, crows, rats and other rodents and ants. The bird dies a painful death and then the swami concludes that the client’s problems are over,” the officer added.
Though the claws grow back after a long time, they would not be of the shape the bird previously had. The chopped beak is a permanent disability and can only be surgically repaired.
Pariah kites the main target
Black magicians or ill wishers will camp near drains and garbage dumps, usually near slums to capture these kites to use them for their rituals. The Pariah kites or the black kites, zoologically known as milvus migrans, are found mostly in urban habitats near waste dumps as they are opportunistic hunters and scavengers.