Young crowned eagle, shot with pellet gun, recovers after op

2011-06-09 00:00

A JUVENILE Crowned Eagle that was shot with a pellet gun was found by Hilton resident Craig Allen of St Michaels Road on Saturday afternoon. The eagle was lying on his front lawn with a broken wing and a large hole exposing its ribcage, which could be seen behind its shoulder.

Allen, who had closely monitored the baby eagle since it started flying four months ago, immediately called Ben Hoffman, CEO of African Birds of Prey Sanctuary in Camperdown.

The chick was hatched in October last year. Hoffman called in Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife officials who caught the bird and brought it to the Specialised Raptor Clinic in Camperdown.

The bird was seen by specialist avian vet Dr Oliver Tatham.

Tatham said, “The bird had a pellet lodged in his head, which means he was shot a few weeks ago, as well as a fractured wing.”

He used the latest digital X ray equipment at Vet House hospital that showed the top of the shoulder had been smashed and that surgical intervention to pin the bone was not an option.

He surgically removed the pellet, which looked as if it had gone through the head of the bird, and stabilised the fractured wing. The bird was given painkillers, fluids and antibiotics.

Hoffman told The Witness the bird’s chances of survival are good, but there is no certainty that it can ever be released back into the wild.

“It will only be released if it is 100% fit and this can only be determined in the long term,” said Hoffman.

Allen who frequently feeds the bird chicken livers said, “He’s just a baby and somebody has cut his life short by doing this.”

He believes that this could be the work of mischievous boys in the neighbourhood whom he has seen shooting at birds with pellet guns.

“People need to know that to discharge a gun, including a pellet gun, in a built-up area is a criminal offence,” said Allen.

Raptor Rescue sees a number of cases of birds of prey shot every year.

Members of the public are welcome to call the Raptor Rescue hotline for advice on birds of prey.

Raptor Rescue operates the largest dedicated bird of prey rehabilitation facility in the country, and is a fully licensed by both KZN Wildlife and by the national Environment Department.

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