Durban birds to take flight for foreign shores in global swop

2014-10-06 00:00

BIRDS of a feather may be flocking together as the city’s Umgeni Bird Park embarks on a bird exchange to release surplus stock and bring in new breeding partners.

The swop will, according to the city, add new species to the “natural resource facility” while finding mates for others to avoid inbreeding.

A straight swop — meaning no costs will be incurred — could see species imported from global zoos and South African indigenous birds shipped out.

Among the 72 bird species heading out are the Mute Swan, Golden Conure and Green Wing Macaw while among the 13 inward-bound to Durban include the Blue Headed Macaw, Military Macaw and Major Mitchell Cockatoo.

Assisting with the swop, Stephen Wilbraham from Impex Wildlife, a specialist wildlife import and export business with quarantine facilities, said while they don’t usually export or import avian species, they had agreed to assist the city with the exchange.

“We will assist in finding zoos elsewhere in the world in which to swop birdlife and inject new blood into the Umgeni facility. A lot of international zoos want South African species,” said Wilbraham.

A report tabled before the community and emergency services committee last week approved the exchange.

DA ward councillor Shaun Ryley, in whose ward the park is situated, said it is “a great initiative”.

The report said that since 2010 “a number of offspring” had been born from the “bird collection … resulting in surplus birds stock and hence the request for the exchange”.

“Single birds can paired resulting in breeding pairs such as the Blue Headed Macaw and the Major Mitchel Cockatoo. Parties [involved in the swop] will get unrelated birds [to] prevent inbreeding,” said the report.

Since the city took over the running of the park in 2009 from entertainment giant Tsogo Sun, the annual foot traffic has increased dramatically from 26 500 visitors in 2010 to 42 170 in 2013.

• jonathan.erasmus@witness.co.za

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