Sanctuary: Plans to use GPS to track and monitor rehabilitated birds

2011-06-28 00:00

A LOCAL bird sanctuary is planning on using a tracking system to monitor rehabilitated birds following the recent shooting of a crowned eagle chick in Hilton.

Ben Hoffman, CEO of the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary where the chick is recuperating, plans on using Global Positioning System (GPS) to monitor the location of the eagle.

The sanctuary is working with a European firm to develop this technology. This tracking system uses the Internet to display the bird’s location on a map.

It currently costs R30 000, however, with the use of cellphone technology, the price can be reduced to between R4 000 and R5 000.

“It’s basically an electronic board with a SIM card and battery,” Hoffman explained.

The device weighs about 35 grams and is strapped to the bird like a backpack. It can be used to monitor a variety of other animals such as dogs, monkeys and rhinos.

The sanctuary also plans on using the tracker system on other species of birds, including black sparrow hawks and secretary birds.

The chick’s health is improving as it is eating regularly and its wound has healed.

Hoffman said that the bird is completely off medication and he will be taking the bird for a check-up today to determine the long-term effects of its injury.

A police case has been opened with the Hilton SAPS in order to determine how the chick was shot.

According to Judy Bell of the Winterskloof Conservancy, the chick had grown used to human interaction as it was being fed by local residents.

This made it an easy target. The feeding of wildlife has become a problem for both people and animals.

Bell cites cases of monkeys associating people with easy food as an example of this predicament.

“Sadly we have had cases where monkeys have had to be trapped and killed when they have attacked people for food,” Bell said.

She suggests that residents refrain from placing food in refuse bags that are left outside for the municipality to collect.

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