We are foremost an educational facility and not an entertainment facility, which in itself sets our project apart from others in the country. We believe that the wellbeing of our animals is always our number one priority, not the fiscal aspect of the activities on offer for public entertainment.
We are a small dedicated team of like-minded individuals (more like family than colleagues), from different backgrounds and age groups, bringing together training in Nature Conservation, Captive Animal Management, Wildlife Rehabilitation, and Falconry.
As a permitted Wildlife Education Centre, our main drive is to educate the public as to the plight of raptors and this we achieve largely with our flight demonstrations, handling days, and photographic days at the centre. We also do educational displays at schools and at other venues if required.
Here at the centre, when we fly birds, it is done for fitness and rehabilitation purposes. This is necessary work to get birds ready for release back into the wild. Some birds cannot be released but still need to be flown to keep in shape and optimal health. The flight displays are therefore not viewed as “entertainment” but rather as necessary for the welfare of the birds. At the same time it is a great opportunity to educate the public as to the plight of raptors.
Indigenous wildlife that comes through the rehabilitation centre, but are deemed non-releasable, we are able to give a home to where they can act as ambassadors for their species. As we take in all species of wildlife, our walk through enclosures are not only of raptors, but of selected other species as well.
Development is consuming thousands of hectares, covering the indigenous bush with roads, housing estates and factories. Orphaned, abandoned, injured and displaced indigenous birds, mammals and reptiles are in need of assistance. The majority of these animals end up either at veterinary facilities or zoos. Wildlife rehabilitation centres fall between these two areas and cater specifically for injured or orphaned indigenous wildlife species.
Annually, hundreds of raptors are injured or killed by vehicles, fences, traps, power lines, poisons or are illegally removed from nesting sites. We rehabilitate scores of survivors annually in an attempt to give them a second chance. The rehabilitation process for a wild animal is a very intensive period which incorporates various factors, including veterinary treatment, correct dietary provisions, adequate enclosures and as little human interaction as possible. Releases take place in carefully chosen areas including reserves and conservancies, but wherever possible, animals are returned to their original location.
Wildlife Rehabilitation is very necessary, and has a very important role to play in conservation. There is a dire shortage of professionally run rehabilitation centres for wildlife in South Africa. There are a number of animals that are endangered and whose gene pool is very limited, so every individual saved is beneficial to the species as a whole.
WHY WAIT FOR A SPECIES TO BE ENDANGERED BEFORE SOMETHING IS DONE ABOUT THE SITUATION.
Wildlife Rehabilitation is NOT about interfering with nature. In fact, it is taking responsibility for the wildlife casualties caused by human activities! Sadly, the vast majority of cases admitted are the direct result of conflict or interference by man. Rehabilitated animals are given a “second chance” to be released back into the wild to be free.
We never want to imprint babies (or tame any animal) that crosses our doorstep, as successful release depends on maintaining the animals’ inherent instinct and wildness and VERY IMPORTANTLY, retaining their natural fear of man. That is why human contact is kept to the absolute minimum and for this reason the Rehabilitation Centre is not open to the general public.
Second Chance Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre was established in 2005 in White River. This facility has had a great success rate, but the drawback has been that the land on which the operations were run in the past, were in the hands of unscrupulous business people who did not see the need for conservation and education but rather the exploitation of the animals for personal profit. Second Chance is now incorporated into the Dullstroom Bird of Prey and Rehabilitation Centre which is managed and owned by the Wildlifesos Trust.
Caracal kitten orphans
Baby Secretary Birds in rehab.
We have a successful controlled captive breeding program with many raptor species found here in South Africa. Offspring born to our captive residents are reintroduced back into the wild whenever possible. We also have resident birds that act as surrogate parents for orphans that come to the hospital.
Over the years we have been quite successful in our rehabilitation programme and to get an animal back into the wild is our ultimate goal. This is not always as easy as it sounds and takes a great deal of time and patience. Release sites have to be carefully chosen and post release monitoring is an area that we still are trying to develop.