What comes to mind when you think of wildlife rescue and conservation. Images of oil covered seagulls, rescued chimps, beached whales, dehorned rhinos? What about all of the precious wildlife that isn’t found in some exotic place, some big reserve “in another province”, but a few kilometres from our homes, schools, and offices? Many people have helped a tortoise or chameleon cross the road or returned a baby bird back into its nest, but who is out there trying to find ways to protect those rare and fragile species and lend a hand to Mother Nature to help offset the impact human civilization can impose on the natural world?
We are passionate about wildlife and have considered this very deeply and realised that there was an immense need for a grassroots type of organization to affect change on a local level. The Wildlifesos Trust was formed as a vehicle to gather enthusiastic folks from many different backgrounds who feel a calling to help wildlife. Through education, conservation, rescue, and rehabilitation, we can be a force to help turn the tide of the rapid decline of many species of wildlife in Mpumalanga and its surrounding areas. Our long term goal is to build a centre where we can focus and organise these efforts in a single place. Don’t you want to be a part of that? One of our mottos : “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem!”
Making a difference in the future of a species through conservation involves embarking on an arduous path, one that will take months and maybe years of discussion, research, as well as partnering with government agencies, universities, and national groups. However, wildlife rescue and rehabilitation is a method of protecting populations that we were able to begin immediately. We can make an impact not only for that individual animal but for local populations that contribute to health of an ecosystem and the survival of the species as a whole. It is well understood that at every step of the way education and public outreach is the key to ensuring our work continues for years to come. We aim to partner with existing wildlife groups to not only build on what they have already done but to ease the burden these amazing organizations have taken on.
We would love to have a group of individuals who could best serve wildlife rehabilitation centres by acting as a facilitator and transporter during wildlife emergencies. We would love to streamline the sometimes difficult process by providing the public with an easy method to call in wildlife emergencies and quickly dispatching an individual to assess the situation, capture, and transport the animal to the proper location for it to receive care. It is a long road to building a solid team of dedicated volunteers to expand and solidify this effort. – BUT IT CAN BE DONE
There have been many animals that could not be saved due to lack of resources. Countless animals are hit by motor vehicles during our busy commutes and populations fade away from ancient habitat by our endless development.
Our current network is made up of only a few and our impact is still limited.
However, with the future help of our community and caring volunteers to come we can truly make a difference!
Let’s make it our goal to protect wildlife in any way we can. We do not want to stop human growth or outdoor recreation. We only aim to make the public aware of wildlife as we continue on our path and enable ways we can live alongside this precious resource, ensuring future generations can enjoy our wondrous wildlife, not in a zoo, textbook, or museum, but right here in our backyard.
To get involved please visit our website at www.wildlifesos.co.za and report any wildlife emergencies via text message to 0828994108. If you want to get involved send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We need your help to protect our wildlife!
Start By Assessing Whether the Wild Animal Really Needs Help
A young wild animal that is alone is not necessarily cause for immediate alarm or rescue.
Wild mothers regularly leave their offspring to go for food. Do not interfere if you see a young animal left alone unless it is obviously injured or at risk of danger, or you have seen the mother animal dead. If you are concerned about a possible “orphan”, watch from a distance for a minimum of several hours to make sure the mother is not in the area.
Do not turn a desire to help these baby animals into kidnapping.
Unnecessary rescues are a common problem with baby animals. Again, a wildlife rehabilitator can provide tips to help you decide if the animal needs to be rescued. If the animal is cold, wet, bleeding, limp, or seems to have broken bones, it should be taken immediately to a vet or wildlife rehabilitator.
If a nest with young birds has fallen down, the parents will often continue to raise the youngsters if the nest can be replaced close to its original location.
If the nest was damaged, there are different ways to replace them. Some nests with young birds can be placed in a plastic veggie basket or margarine tub (with holes punched in the bottom) and carefully attached back to the tree with wires or string. It’s good to get it fairly close to where the nest was originally, but it does not have to be in the exact same place. Exercise caution when replacing the nest. Minimize handling of the birds, but don’t worry that the parents will reject them because of the smell of humans (birds actually don’t smell very well).
If a baby bird is on the ground, check to see if it has feathers.
If it does not have feathers, it should not yet be on the ground. If the baby bird does not appear injured, and it is possible and safe to return it to the exact nest, it is usually okay to replace it in the nest. The parents will not abandon it because it has been touched by humans.
Find a baby bird which is fully feathered and hopping around on the ground?
It may just be learning to forage for food and fly. These young birds, called fledglings, usually just need practice, not rescue. Their parents will continue to watch over and feed them while they are on the ground. Try to keep cats, dogs, and children away so it can learn to fly, which could take up to two weeks. If the bird is obviously injured, it needs to go to a vet/wildlife rehabilitator immediately.
Find a baby duck or goose alone?
Called precocial birds, these hatch fully-feathered with their eyes open. They leave the nest hours after hatching to follow their parents. They rely on parents for warmth, supervision, and protection from predators. They cannot survive on their own. So if one is found alone, the best thing to do is to search for the parent and try to safely reunite them. If the parents are not obvious or can’t be located, a wildlife rehabilitator should be contacted.
Find an adult wild animal that seems hurt or sick?
Contact a wildlife rehabilitator, the wildlife agency, or animal control officer immediately!
Remember, there are risks in handling wild animals,
even if they may appear to be young, small, or “safe”. Contact a wildlife rehabilitator, the wildlife agency, or animal control officer for more information.
What If I Think a Wild Animal Does Need Rescue?
Check the list above to decide if the wild animal really does need rescue.
Contact a wildlife rehabilitator, wildlife agency, animal control officer, or other expert for advice.
They can help confirm whether the animal needs rescue or should be left alone. They can give you contact information about people who are trained and qualified to help. They can also describe risks, relevant laws, and generally helpful information. In some cases, the expert will rescue the animal.
How Might a Wildlife Rehabilitator Rescue a Wild Animal?
They would start by THINKING ABOUT SAFETY.
They would exercise many safety precautions. They would avoid or minimize risks. They would keep children and domestic animals away from the wild animal(s). The rehabilitator may decide that in some cases that a rescue requires extra help or maybe should not be attempted. They would also consider the animal’s safety and take actions to avoid any further harm to the animal.
If a wildlife disease is suspected or there are other concerns,
the rehabilitators may contact other experts for advice or help before taking action. They would not want the public involved with any capture or handling if the animal was considered high risk for causing injury or disease, or was exhibiting any symptoms of disease (i.e., rabies). They may bring in additional people, including wildlife officers, with special equipment, expertise, and licenses or permits for handling high-risk animals. They would advise the public to not pick up or handle a bat.
Rehabilitators would wear gloves, use handling equipment, and have a container ready
before approaching or capturing the animal. The container would be a little bit larger than the animal and have small air holes (if it was necessary to use a box instead of an animal carrier or cage, they would make small air holes before placing the animal in the container). The container would be of sturdy material and be able to be securely closed, even for young or unconscious animals (rehabilitators wouldn’t want to take any chances on an animal reviving quickly and “escaping” in a vehicle or building).
The rehabilitators would immediately transport the wild animal
to a vet or the rehabilitation facility. They would keep the vehicle quiet and at a moderately warm temperature.
The rehabilitator would emphasize the importance of not placing people at risk
to rescue a wild animal.
The rehabilitators would have a plan ready for contingencies.
They would consider how to prevent further problems, such as the animal moving toward traffic, into deep water, or into an inaccessible place. They would have a plan about what to do if the animal attempts to attack. They would think about potential danger in advance since many animals can cause injury when threatened, including common animals that seem “safe” – like rabbits, squirrels, some birds, and turtles. This is especially important when considering rescuing animals that may carry the risk of serious disease (such as rabies), larger animals (such as antelope, caracal), and predators (including owls, hawks, jackals).
What If I Already Rescued the Wild Animal?
This reduces the risk to humans and to the animal. Exercise caution when handling any wild animal! This includes wearing gloves and avoiding any contact with the animal that could result in injury. Wild animals can cause injury with their teeth, beaks, claws, talons, and wings. They can also transmit diseases and parasites.
Injured or orphaned wild animals should be kept in a secured container
so they cannot harm people, further harm themselves, or escape. The container should be a little bit larger than the animal and should have small air holes (if necessary, make the small air holes before placing the animal in the container). Containers of suitable materials should be securely closed, even with young or unconscious animals (too many rescuers have been surprised when an animal recovers faster than expected and then “escapes” in the car or building).
Keep the container with the wild animal in a quiet, warm, and dark place.
Injured or orphaned wild animals are often in shock, which can threaten their survival. Standard treatment for shock includes quiet, warm, and dark. Keep away from people and pets.
Do not feed a wild animal!
Most wild animals that are admitted to rehabilitation are injured, dehydrated, or in shock. Feeding the wild animal in such conditions can cause further problems. Wrong diets or feeding techniques can harm or kill wild animals. Even giving them water can cause additional problems. If the water is hand-fed, aspiration can occur causing the animal to breathe the fluid into its lungs. If water is given in a bowl, an animal can often drown in the water depending on its age or injury. Another risk is that the animal can get into the water or spill it and once the animal is wet it can quickly become hypothermic. Plus, handling and feeding wild animals increases the risk of injury to humans.
Contact a wildlife rehabilitator immediately!
Do not try to care for the animal yourself! Many people believe that they can provide appropriate care and that it would be interesting to help wildlife. Wildlife has many special needs, including diet, caging, and medical treatment. Rehabilitating wildlife also requires special permits and licenses. Contacting a rehabilitator immediately may make the difference between the wild animal’s survival or death. It could also make a difference for you! If you still wonder why you should contact a rehabilitator immediately, read the next section.
If there has been any injury from the wild animal, contact a physician immediately
and get professional care! Do not delay in getting professional medical treatment for any injury related to a wildlife encounter. Hesitation or delay could have extremely serious and dangerous consequences! The best way to prevent injury or exposure to health problems is to contact a wildlife rehabilitator or other wildlife professional for assistance immediately.
Owls are not common backyard birds, but they can be highly desirable guests and are incredible to hear and observe when they do visit. With the right preparation, it is possible to attract owls to your garden on a regular basis.
Why We Love Owls
Owls are some of the most loved species of raptor, and their silent flight, large eyes, mournful calls and nocturnal behaviour make them both magical and mysterious. Because owls are not highly active during the day, a backyard owl can coexist with other backyard birds, and as excellent hunters, they can help control rodent populations. Because they do not eat birdseed, they are also inexpensive to attract compared to birds with hearty appetites.
Depending on the local habitat and how attractive the garden is for these birds of prey will determine whether they decide to move in or not. By erecting an owl box, you can create a “home” which they may well decide to occupy.
How to Attract Owls
As with attracting any birds, the key to attracting owls is to provide their four basic needs: food, water, shelter and nesting sites.
Food: Owls will not visit bird feeders, but it is possible to provide a steady food source. Because owls eat mice, voles and similar small rodents, backyard birders who have mice nearby are more likely to attract owls. Leaving grass uncut, adding a brush pile and leaving seed on the ground will make the yard more mouse-friendly, which in turn makes the habitat more owl-friendly. Avoid using poisons or traps to eliminate mice, and let owls take care of the problem instead.
Water: Owls get the vast majority of the fluid they need in their diets from the prey they consume, and they are not frequent visitors to bird baths. In hotter climates and during the summer, however, owls may visit slightly larger, deeper bird baths to drink or bathe. Providing this type of water source in a secluded area is more likely to encourage owls to visit.
Shelter: Owls need somewhat dense, mature trees with good trunks to roost during the day, preferably in a shaded, secluded area. Both coniferous and deciduous trees are suitable if they are a good size. Hollow tree trunks and empty owl nest boxes are also good alternatives to natural shelter, but providing natural spaces where the owls can feel safe during the day is the best way to encourage them to use the shelter.
Nesting Sites: Hollow trees are most owls’ preferred nesting sites. Barn owls may also use abandoned buildings for nesting, and leaving a barn or shed open for the birds to access can give them a great place to raise a brood. Nest boxes should be erected and monitored to be kept free from wasps, squirrels, rodents or other birds to offer alternative nesting sites. Nest boxes should be firmly attached to a wall or tree trunk, in a quiet position, such as an outbuilding away from human disturbance and where it is inaccessible to predators. It is perhaps better not to attach the boxes to walls of houses, as the owls may make a noise and mess and attack people and pets when defending their chicks. The boxes should be erected on the shady side of a building or tree. There are numerous owl box designs available on the web and also ready-made boxes for those who do not want to try making their own.