Busy season begins for animal rescues, Newsline

DURBAN – Seven animal rescues before 9.30am.

Those were the call-outs for the Crow (Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife) team on Thursday as the busy spring baby season gets under way.

Speaking on Thursday at the launch of the annual Crow Wildlife 2021 calendar at the animal rescue centre in Yellowwood Park, director Clint Halkett-Siddall said: “Spring season is here, which is also breeding season and generally more activity, especially among reptiles.

“On Wednesday night, we were also called out to rescue a scrub hare which someone was selling on the side of the road in Ballito.”

Halkett-Siddall urged Durban residents not to buy animals from the side of the road because it only drives the illegal trade in wild animals.

Currently, the most commonly sold animals are chameleons and duiker.

Also in the spotlight at the launch was this year’s wildlife calendar which was dedicated to the crowned eagle “Majestic Queen”, which was shot with a pellet gun in Malvern in early August.

While the eagle had been shot three times, the fatal bullet hit the bird of prey’s spine and it was found on the roof of a home in Hillside Avenue, Malvern. It had to be euthanised at the centre.

Ian du Randt of Compass Medical Waste Services, Crow’s partner, put up a R5000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the shooter. He said on Thursday that the investigation into the incident was on-going.

Crow is funded by public donations and Halkett-Siddall said no animal in need had been turned away.

He also said that during the spring and summer season, the centre had about 500 animals on the premises at any one time, with up to 4000 rescues coming in the door every year.

“Last summer, our average was 16 rescues a day,” said Halkett-Siddall.

He said the organisation’s key focus was to release rescued animals back into the wild, saying “the best cage is an empty cage”.

Other recently rescued animals included a 3.8m rock python, antelope found hog-tied in a warehouse and two baby crocodiles which have to reach a length of 1.5m and be capable of fending for themselves before they will be released.

The centre also houses primates such as vervet monkeys and baboons, as well as animals like duiker and genets. Many birds, from day-old chicks to large birds of prey and marine birds, are also rescued.

Founded in 1977 by Durban conservationist Isolde Mellett in her garage, the centre has helped more than 150000 wild animals in the past four decades.

To order the Crow Wildlife calendar email compasscares@compass.za.net

Independent On Saturday