Winterskloof eagle learns to fly

2012-04-30 00:00

THE Winterskloof Valley Conservancy is celebrating after one young African Crowned Eagle has just worked out how to fly, unlike its older brother, which was wounded so badly by pellets it will never fly again.

Judy Bell, chair of the conservancy, said the best way people could celebrate the new chick becoming airborne was to leave it wild in nature. She said the badly wounded chick had became tame and totally lost its fear of humans after residents in the conservancy fed it. “This familiarity led to tragic incidents in which he was shot twice over a period of time, by children using pellet guns.

“This led to him being so badly injured that he will never fly again.” She said he was rescued and nursed back to health by Ben Hofmann and his team and was currently in a breeding programme at the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary at Camperdown.

Bell implored all residents, their guests and employees to allow this chick to grow and thrive, without interference or attempts to feed, touch or tame it in any way. “These magnificent birds are very capable of catching their own food and will only be placed at risk if we do not respect their wildness,”she said.

On the website africanraptors.org, Garth Batchelor, one of South Africa’s leading experts on the African Crowned Eagle, said its status was currently classified as “near threatened” in South Africa. Meanwhile, many other animals, domestic and wild, find themselves victims of irresponsible shooting with pellet guns, said Steve Smith from Monkey Help­line. Among them are hadedas, pigeons, dogs, cats and storks.

Dave Du Toit, the director of the Vervet Monkey Foundation said that pellets often don’t kill animals, but wound and poison them. “If they do die, it is due to the poison from the lead of the pellet or from the pellet rupturing an organ causing a slow, painful death,” he said.

Smith added that more than 80% of all the monkeys rescued by the Monkey Helpline have pellets in their bodies.

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