‘Wildlife warriors’ honoured

Cayman Wildlife Rescue recently celebrated two wildlife heroes, Mikaella Lacerda and Rogerio Pitta from Brazil, who have been volunteering with CWR for two years.

“These two ‘wildlife warriors’ have become integral to our program,” said Programme Manager Alison Corbett. “I wanted to recognise their involvement and achievements over the last few years.”

Ms Lacerda and Mr. Pitta were presented with an appreciation certificate from the National Trust for the Cayman Islands and given appreciation gifts for their efforts. DNS Diving donated a two-tank boat dive for the couple, and The Reef donated a weekend stay at the resort.

The couple has volunteered every week, sometimes more than 30 hours each on top of their regular full-time jobs.

Highlights of their work include assisting a barn owl, nicknamed Barney, which suffered a spinal injury. Ms Lacerda and Mr. Pitta took over much of his care, feeding him daily and exercising him regularly to prepare him for release.

“It was a very long rehabilitation period for this barn owl, and it’s thanks to the dedication of this couple that we were able to have a successful release,” Ms Corbett said.

After Barney was released, he even paid them a visit. The couple, who live near the release sight, spotted Barney regularly and eventually he was spotted with a mate.

The team also helped rehabilitate two juvenile brown pelicans that came into the program last winter. Ms Lacerda and Mr. Pitta oversaw their care until they were ready for release.

“As soon as we released the pelican in Pease Bay, he was joined by several other pelicans. It was great to see them all together fishing in the shallows. It was a wonderful reward for all our hard work,” Mr. Pitta said.

During baby bird season when the program became inundated with nestlings and fledglings, they volunteered to hand-raise baby birds.

“I think it would be impossible to count how many baby birds this couple has hand-raised or how many nests they have successful restored. During our busiest time of year Mikaella and Rogerio have been invaluable,” Ms Corbett added.

There were also many heroic wildlife rescues such as a magnificent frigate bird which became entangled in a fishing line in the harbour. They were first on the scene. Mr. Pitta borrowed a kayak and paddled out to the Frigate which was near drowning.

“The weather then quickly took a turn for the worse and not only was it pouring, the sea became quite rough. Rogerio disappeared from my view completely as he paddled out to the frigate,” Ms Lacerda said.

Mr. Pitta cut the line and pulled the Frigate up on the kayak. The bird was OK and rescued just in time. After being kept overnight and allowing his feathers to dry, the bird was released the next day.

The couple have also become sought after due to their bird of prey experience handling many owls and hawks that come into the program.

“Wildlife Rescue is a very demanding field; many long volunteer hours gave our program stability this last year,” Ms Corbett said. “The demand on this program is growing and it has been very difficult. Without the dedication of Mikaella and Rogerio, we wouldn’t have been able to operate. They are true wildlife heroes, and I am so pleased we are able to present them with some tokens of our gratitude, thanks to our friends at DNS Diving and The Reef for their support.”

Members of the public can support Cayman Wildlife Rescue by making a donation and mailing to: PO Box 31116 KY1-1205 or buying symbolic wildlife adoption kits available at the National Trust gift shop. For more information visit: www.caymanwildliferescue.org
917.BIRD (2474) is the Wildlife Rescue Hotline, and is available for the public to call for injured, sick or orphaned native & migratory wildlife.

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