Bid to relocate roosting egrets backfires

2016-02-12 11:30
Toyota general manager Russell Goosen stands under the trees the egrets have now relocated to at night and points to the new cars covered in bird droppings.

Toyota general manager Russell Goosen stands under the trees the egrets have now relocated to at night and points to the new cars covered in bird droppings. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - The egrets that lost their roosting spot when trees outside Toyota in Armitage Road were felled have relocated to trees behind the dealership.

The fever trees outside the entrance of the dealership were cut down on Tuesday and Wednesday in the hopes that the birds would find another place to roost.

Toyota general manager Russell Goosen said yesterday the smell and mess emanating from the bird droppings was “too much to bear” and as a last resort, they had felled the trees.

Pietermaritzburg residents decried the tree felling on Wednesday, calling it “disturbing and sad”, however, Goosen said the bird droppings had posed a health risk to employees and customers.

“We apologise to anyone we upset by cutting down the trees. We didn’t want to, but had to because of the mess and the smell,” he said.

“Egrets usually roost over a body of water and when the trees near the small dam were cut down a number of years ago, they moved to a few places before settling outside our company.”

He said the egrets had originally roosted in the trees at the back of the dealership but after the major hailstorm in February last year, they had moved to the front.

“We tried different tactics to get them to move. We tried ringing a horn every morning but they always came back.

“We called bird experts who told us that egrets were especially difficult to relocate and so we felt that felling the trees was the only option.”

Goosen said the birds had created a “blanket” of bird droppings and the resulting smell was “unbearable” when they were at the front of the company.

“Now they have moved to the back, we still have the same problem … there are bird droppings all over the brand new cars which will have to be moved and the parking spaces they were standing in will have to be left empty.”

He said the smell was “difficult to ignore” and felt it posed a health risk to customers and employees visiting the dealership.

“For the moment, we will keep the trees they are roosting in at the back, but we are contemplating relocating the trees so they are closer to the dam.

“It is the last thing we want to do but we cannot keep trading like this,” he said.

• chelsea.pieterse@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  wildlife  |  birds  |  animals

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