Giving animals, birds a second chance

2017-07-20 06:00
=African Dawn is a safe sanctuary for cheetahs, servals, caracal, monkeys, squirrels, mongoose, meerkats and crocodile, as well as numerous buck species including grysbok, grey duiker and blue duiker. Veterinary nurse and volunteer Ali Horn helped to hand-raise Bree, a duiker.                                                                                                                                                     Photos:MONIQUE BASSON

=African Dawn is a safe sanctuary for cheetahs, servals, caracal, monkeys, squirrels, mongoose, meerkats and crocodile, as well as numerous buck species including grysbok, grey duiker and blue duiker. Veterinary nurse and volunteer Ali Horn helped to hand-raise Bree, a duiker. Photos:MONIQUE BASSON

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Burnt trees and desolation.

Driving the gravel road to African Dawn Bird and Wildlife Sanctuary in Thornhill, the devastation left by raging fires fuelled by storm winds on June 3, surrounds one. Gone are the once lush greenery and tall trees.

Amid these ruins African Dawn escaped completely unscathed - from the lazy female Nile crocodile named Steve to the playful servals.

This despite the fire coming within a metre of the sanctuary, says veterinary nurse and volunteer Ali Horn, who has been with African Dawn for the last 12 years.

“We were on the other side of the N2 helping to remove some cattle, when the wind suddenly turned,” she says.

“Within minutes the road to African Dawn was surrounded by flames. But we pushed through, got the volunteers and escaped over farm land to safety. Not wanting to leave the animals behind, the owner, Percy Hickman, rushed back to the sanctuary. However, there was nothing he could do.

“Upon our return we expected the worst. But as the smoke cleared, we slowly started to realise that not one animal was injured - not even by the smoke.”

African Dawn

African Dawn is a safe sanctuary for cheetahs, servals, caracal, monkeys, squirrels, mongoose, meerkats and crocodile, as well as numerous buck species including grysbok, grey duiker and blue duiker,

Bird lovers can sit around and hear the calls of birds such as the Knysna loerie, the laughing dove and the vibrant bishop.

It being home to over 250 species of birds indigenous to South Africa and further afield, African Dawn boasts the largest aviary in the Eastern Cape.

It also serves as a sanctuary which takes in unwanted pets such as parrots and monkeys.

The beginning

But where did it all start?

It all started with Percy Hickman’s love for birds and animals.

From a very young age, he took in orphaned and injured birds and animals. As more and more animals found their way to his loving and healing sanctuary, Hickman decided to open his sanctuary’s doors to the public. In doing so, he helped foot the bill for the growing cost of feeding and caring for these wild animals and birds.

The sanctuary continued to grow over the years, and in 2003 he started a successful volunteer programme to help look after the ever-growing number of residents.

Visit

Spend a relaxing day at African Dawn and immerse yourself in the tranquil surroundings of the park, while the kids learn more about the wildlife that surrounds them.

Feed the free-roaming birds such as guinea fowl, peacocks and chicks, or enjoy a romantic picnic under the shade of an old pear tree.

Braai facilities are also available.

An on-site restaurant serves light meals between 10:00 and 14:00.

Situated near Thornhill just off the N2 between Jeffryes Bay and Port Elizabeth, African Dawn is open seven days a week from 09:00 to 17:00, including public holidays.

The entrance fee is R65 for adults, R30 for children between 6 and 16 years, and R15 for children between 3 and 5 years. Children under three enter free.

Information

For more information, contact African Dawn Bird and Wildlife Sanctuary at 042 286 0710 or 083 270 3397. Alternatively, send an email toafricandawn@lantic.net.

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