On my second day volunteering at ACRES, I got to shadow the animal rescue team - Gerald and Aaron - driving around Singapore in the rescue van responding to helpline calls. The rescue team, helps extricate animals from situations where there is a possibility of human-animal conflict and danger to either species.
ACRES Rescue Van
After arriving at ACRES, we waited for about 30 minutes before getting on the road to the first case. This was a reticulated python found at InVivos, a supplier for ACRES. The operation went extremely smoothly, as they had already managed to trap the snake under a box. However, while this was convenient, it may not have been good for the snake to be in the hot sunlight for so long, so we sprayed the snake with water.
Reticulated Python @ InVivos.
Swipe right to see a Reticulated Python in the wild. Source: iStock Photo
This rescue operation took about 5-10 minutes, which is typical of most rescues, so a lot of the time is spent on the road. However, this time definitely was not going to waste, as calls were coming in every two minutes about animals in danger. Of course, it is impossible to provide in-person assistance to every one of them, so over-the-phone-assistance was given to the less dangerous cases. Abandoned baby birds were by far the most common calls.
Next, we travelled to Ewart park, due to a case about a baby nightjar that seemed to have no parents. It was just sat on the floor, not really moving. In these cases, ACRES tries to reunite the baby birds with its parents on the spot, but after searching for 15 minutes, we couldn't find any signs of the mother. This is because nightjars have some of the best camouflage in the animal kingdom. The only way to find the parents would be with a flashlight at night, because the glow of their eyes would be visible, so we decided to refer the case to the night shift.
Baby Nightjar @ Ewart Park
Swipe right to see a Nightjar in the wild © Singapore Birds Project
Right next to this rescue, we were called in to remove a monitor lizard that had wandered into a landed house at Mingteck park. It was behind a storage box, so we placed the carrier on one side and used a stick to get the monitor lizard into the carrier. The ACRES rescue team takes effort to minimize stress by minimizing handling and restraint, and this approach of guiding the lizard into the carrier worked out well this round. It turned out that this monitor was a clouded monitor, which is a native species in Singapore and so it could be safely released into a suitable habitat in the wild.
Clouded Monitor Lizard @ Mingteck Park
Swipe right to see Clouded Monitor Lizards in the wild © Mongabay
The next case before lunch was a green tree snake in a pantry. This one was pretty easy to catch, as it was tiny.
Paradise Tree Snake Hiding in a Pantry
Swipe right to see a Paradise Tree Snake in the wild © Wild Singapore, Wild Factsheets
Finally, after lunch we had to rescue some baby mynas that we found when servicing an air conditioner. We could see the mother on a building nearby wondering where her nest had gone. We made a makeshift nest fashioned out of some spare boxes found inside the van, and added some thatch and leaves to make it authentic. We then used tape to affix it to the wall of the building.
This day was jam packed, yet one of the most fun I have had. I really enjoyed the unexpected nature of shadowing a rescue, especially of animals that most people would find scary or unpleasant. I enjoyed the day so much, that I asked to shadow rescue again and last week I joined Rescue Officer Ava Rozario and volunteer Syazleena on a second day on the road. This time we rescued a python and released a tree snake back into the wild.
L to R: With Syazleena at the van, Python Rescue
Tree Snake Release
While many people care about beautiful, personable and famous animals like tigers, elephants and orangutans; ACRES is special because it cares for all animals - big or small, personable or not, cute or dangerous, endangered or common. Every animal has a right to it's place on Earth and its role in our complex, yet fragile ecosystem. The commitment shown by ACRES in doing what most people would not, is something I admire deeply. And I can't wait to go on rescue again!
If you would like to help ACRES rescue and rehabilitate wildlife, please check out their website and look for ways to contribute including donating, volunteering or even supporting their upcoming charity auction, where you will see some of my art in addition to other cool merchandize.
Thank you for caring about wildlife and our planet!