Wildlife Rescue, Turkish Style

Wildlife Rescue, Turkish Style

I was keen to have a look at Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace Museum, but on the day I turned up it was closed for a public holiday. I decided to walk along the outside of the Palace walls and down to the waterfront parklands below. The Palace overlooks the point where The Golden Horn and Bosphorus waterways meet, and is a flurry of spray and activity as ferries plough back and forth.

Ferry, Bosphorus
The maritime version of the Push-me Pull-you

As I walked past a statue of Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, a fire engine arrived. With lights flashing and a yelp of the siren, the driver followed the waving arms of a security guard and entered the park.

I looked around for any sight or smell of fire, and noticed a small crowd had gathered and were gesticulating towards something caught up in a tree. Were the Fire Brigade here to do the classic cat-up-a-tree-rescue? If that was the case then considering the number of moggies in Istanbul they’d be at it all day. I wandered around the tree to get a better look, and saw a struggling hooded crow which appeared to have its feet tangled in something.

Wildlife rescue, Turkish style
A crap photo of the ensnared crow

I stood back and watched the drama unfold. Could the Fire Brigade actually have been called out to rescue one of Istanbul’s most common scavenger birds? The driver carefully reversed up to the tree, and a fireman in full kit climbed into the cherrypicker.

Wildlife rescue, Turkish style
‘Yeah mate keep ‘er coming you got heaps of room…’
Wildlife rescue, Turkish style
‘Easy mate…easy…”

After maneuvering his conveyance, he carefully cut the bird free and descended with it.

Wildlife rescue, Turkish style
‘Settle down fuck ya I’m trying to help!’

Once on the ground, it was clear the bird had picked up some fishing line, which was now tightly wrapped around its feet. A man in the crowd produced a pocket knife and began carefully cutting the line away. Once free of the line, the fireman took the crow over to the security guard’s office and left the casualty in their care. With the mission successfully accomplished, the Brigade left the scene.

The Turkish people really seem to have a genuine love for their animals. I suppose that on a slow day it’s good to get the Fire Brigade out practising their emergency response, but it was still pretty amazing to see them rescue one of the city’s most common bird species. Particularly as the hooded crow isn’t a particularly attractive bird, and is often seen in mobs fighting over refuse.

Hooded crows, Turkey
Hooded crows in happier times

Dostoevsky said ‘A society should be judged not by how it treats its outstanding citizens but by how it treats its criminals’. I reckon the way a society treats its animals is also a pretty good criterion.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like The Dogs of Istanbul, Istanbul: City of Cats

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