Rafid Hoque Swad talks about his experience of rescuing kites as well as other animals during an interview with Dhaka Tribune
Around 200-250 kites visit Rafid’s rooftop everyday
The superstition is widespread in Bangladesh that kites (a bird of prey) eat human eyes. However, despite such superstition, a 22-year-old youth named Rafid Hoque Swad rescues injured kites from different places to nurse them back to health, and then frees them into the open sky after their recovery.
From November 2020 till date, he has rescued 10 injured kites and released five. He will be releasing the rest of the kites, but a few of those kites will never be able to fly again because of their physical as well as mental disabilities, a condition which hurts Rafid the most.
They will remain with him for the rest of their lives.
This animal-loving youth lives in a seven-storied house at Nazira Bazar in Old Dhaka, which is now known as Chil Bari (Kite house) to people.
The rooftop is like a little sanctuary for animals. Dogs, cats, crows, rabbits, kites- they can all be found here.
How it all began
"It just happened. It was not planned," Rafid told Dhaka Tribune when asked how his journey of saving animals and birds began.
One day he got to know that a trader involved in the potato market of Old Dhaka would sell an injured kite because that kite had suffered an electric shock. Rafid went there to see the kite and once he saw the injured kite, he found that the wing of the kite had become useless.
Witnessing the terrible agony of the injured kite, Rafid bought it for Tk250, though the trader had initially demanded Tk5,000 for it. Then he brought the bird home and named her Scar.
"When I bought her, she was nearly a lifeless bird but in our first meeting, she did not forget to give me a large and long scar on my hand. That is why I named her Scar, to keep the memory alive," Rafid explained the reason behind naming her.
After rescuing Scar, he started to take care of her and regularly published photos and videos on his Youtube channel, as well as on a Facebook page named Doggo Sage. Within a few days, the videos gained popularity among animal lovers on social media. Later on, people started sending kites to him.
“This cycle is continuing and this exposure makes it appear as if I only rescue kites,” he laughed, adding that he has, in fact, always had pets from his childhood.
"But Scar does not hurt me now; I guess she can understand that I am doing something good for her. I have noticed that no animals show aggression toward me, though normally kites are very aggressive," he said.
"Releasing Scar will be my biggest success story. But the saddest thing is that it is going to fly away, I am never going to see my Scar," Rafid lamented.
How does Rafid take care of his animals?
Rafid says that he usually does not take his animals to the veterinarian because he already provides them with the treatment that a vet would advise.
"As I have had different types of pets from my childhood, I already know how to treat them and now we also have Youtube," he explained.
Two years ago, Rafid rescued an injured eagle and he learned how to take care of eagles as well as pigeons by watching tutorials on Youtube. That eagle recovered and he released it just a few days ago.
"As per my experience, I found that the means of taking care of eagles and kites is almost similar. That is why I usually do not take them to the doctor. Moreover, I do not give injured kites any heavy medicine and try to cure them naturally," he further explained.
"After getting shelter from me for so many days, they start to depend on me. Most importantly, they start to trust me a lot. That is why before releasing them, I start to irritate and scare them so that they never believe humans in the future and keep themselves safe and sound. It is important that they understand that humans are not their friends, we are their enemies." Rafid stressed.
He teaches them hunting because the kites have forgotten hunting due to not being in practice for so many days as a result of their physical disabilities. Besides, he also teaches them to exercise.
Rafid releases the kites at Dhaka University campus as there are a lot of trees as well as kites, which is good for wounded kites.
"Another reason is that the Dhaka University field is near my house. If someday they wish, they can come to me again," he said with hope.
Chil Bari gets 200-250 kites every day
He says that he has a dog named Snoopy, which was the first animal he rescued. He brought Snoopy six years ago from Katabon when this dog was paralyzed and did not have any fur. Then Rafid asked the shopkeeper for the dog because the shopkeeper would have given her away.
Now he has four more dogs.
"Every day, I used to bring meat for my dogs and a lot of crows would also come during that time. Suddenly one or two kites started to come, then it reached 50 and now every day almost 200-250 kites come at 5:30-6:00 pm on my rooftop. I have been feeding these kites, besides my caged animals, for two years,” he stated.
Rafid, a student of the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB), is completing his BBA. He is currently in his eighth semester.
Every month, he has to spend Tk 12000 on his animals. He buys 2-3 kgs of organs to feed his animals as well as the flying kites.
He has a dream of owning a restaurant where all his animals will be housed and all the wasted food from the restaurant will be used to feed the animals.