CHANDIGARH: Prince Mehra had just entered his forties when, during a visit to Ferozepur in 2011, he found the carcasses of two pigeons that had died of electrocution disposed of in a roadside dustbin.
"I took out both the carcasses and buried them in a nearby pit," Mehra (52) said.
Mortified by the incident, the Chandigarh native decided to do something for birds in distress following his return to the city.
He modified his bicycle and started an ambulance service and, for the past 11 years, has been looking after injured birds -- earning the 'Birdman' sobriquet.
Not only does he look after injured birds, he also disposes of the carcasses found on the roadside.
"The incident also made me wonder that if dead birds are disposed of in a reckless manner, it is not good for the environment. It can also endanger both human and animal health," Mehra told PTI.
He said his bicycle bird ambulance was equipped with all necessary medical aid.
"I move around the city in my bird ambulance and wherever I find an injured bird, I attend to it at the spot or bring it home. If it is seriously injured, I bring the bird to the animal husbandry hospital here where I work. For the birds that don't survive, I bury the carcasses by digging pits on the roadside where they are found. Birds also deserve a dignified burial," he said.
Mehra also gets calls from people informing him about a dead or an injured bird, he said.
If a dead bird is not properly disposed of and left unattended, it can become a cause for spread of diseases, he said.
"From 2011, I have buried 1,254 birds and treated 1,150," Mehra added.
His widespread acclaim was evident after a nationalised bank gave him an e-bike, which he now uses to provide the ambulance service.
His work has also been recognised by the Chandigarh administration, which has given him a state-level award, Mehra said.
Mehra has been working for environment protection causes since 1990.
"I was associated with a NGO. We used to promote cycling as it was good for the environment," Mehra, who earlier worked as a signboard painter, said.
"I also write slogans on my cycle with an appeal to the people to save the environment. Doing all that gives me immense satisfaction," he added.
His family also supports him and his children sometimes accompany him to attend to an injured bird, Chandigarh's Birdman said.
"My son is doing a diploma in architecture while my daughter studies in Class 11. Sometimes, they also accompany me on my missions. I tell them and the common people also that we should treat birds and animals as a part of us. They are an important part of the ecosystem. We should take care of our environment," Mehra added.