Hand-rearing and rehabilitation of comb ducks Sarkidiornis melanotos
Soham Mukherjee, Akanksha Mukherjee
Comb duck Sarkidiornis melanotos is a resident species in the city of Ahmedabad. These ducks breed regularly in natural cavities in large, old trees in the urban spaces, and sometimes in man-made cavities on rooftops. While eggs are successfully hatched in these nests, there are no viable water bodies for foraging. After hatching out, the precocial ducklings are found wandering on streets following their distressed mother and are then rescued by members of public. Such ducklings are hand-reared in wildlife rehabilitation centers with the objective of release back into their natural habitats. It is important to provide necessary requirements especially housing, nutrition, and behavioral conditioning for successful rehabilitation. Lack of resources, and available literature specific to Indian species and conditions makes it difficult for Indian rehabilitators. In this study we present methods of housing, physical care, diet plans, behavioral conditioning, and release techniques that were used to successfully rehabilitate 411 ducklings in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, between 2005 and 2018. These methods can be used as guidelines for other biologically and behaviorally similar species.