First of all girls and guys, apologies for the radio silence yesterday! The big storms here have meant powercuts and little to no phone signal on the South African sims yesterday.
After an early night (hahaha – you have to be kidding after that much cake!) everyone was up bright and early – well, after a little help from Seargent Major Tommy anyway – and ready for a little walk at Victor’s place. This is an introduction to the environmental awareness course that will be taught at Albizia Camp, made better by finding the giraffes having a quick snack on the path on the way back!
Then was a talk from the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), where students found out about the cruelty statistics in South Africa which is high due to a combination of the weather, poverty and most importantly lack of education.
Despite the shocking stories that both inspectors had to tell, everyone wanted to know more. So eager were they with their questions that they didnt even seem to mind that it was lunchtime and instead carried on firing more and more questions about the neutering program that was running in the country in an attempt to lower the number of unwanted and neglected animals.
Zoo time! This is an important part of the trip as it shows the importance of the right habitat and conditions to each and every animal. The enclosures of the animals at this zoo show a stark contrast to most zoos in the UK. To quote one student “this place makes our Zoos look like palaces”.
The students were told to observe the enclosures at the zoo so that they could draw direct comparisons between the zoo and the raptor centre.
What a stark difference at the Raptor Centre! First let me explain what the raptor centre is for.
Ben and Shannon run two different sides to the raptor centre. Ben has a rehabilitation centre where injured birds are brought to get them ready for release back into the environment. They may need help for anything from poisoning, hunting, accidental injury or even rescued from situations such as the muthi market or even zoos.
All birds that can survive in the wild are released. Any birds that cannot be released due to their injuries, such as missing a wing, leg, tail, eye are kept at the raptor centre and are bred to increase the numbers of the species in the wild.
Walking around the raptor centre is a treat as the enclosures all have specific decor – for example the barn owl enclosure has been decked out as a barn complete with hayloft ladder for them to perch upon.
Companions for each animal are carefully selected to ensure that their quality of life is high as possible despite their disadvantages.
Despite the cold wind coming up the valley – blankets were provided after a few of the students were asked why they weren’t wearing any clothes – girls you know who you are…
The highlight of the day for many was the flight show where the more able of the birds have a chance to show off what makes them them great hunters.
The birds included among others; the little goshawk who didn’t want to be released.
YBK, the Yellow billed kite with the broken wing feathers. The stroppy owl who when scared or bored ‘runs’ (not flies) away, and ‘Chicken’ the Peregrine falcon who was poisoned.
Shannon kept the students on their toes springing question after question – premempting which questions we were going to ask. Rather than just giving us the usual tourist talk, the show was tailored more specifically to animal management, husbandry and rehabilitation to tie in with the course curriculum.
Shannon also taught us some very important life lessons after seeing poo on the back of the Yellow Billed Kite – never sit below your boyfriend.
The raptor place even had cuddly little bunnies!!
And what a view behind the show stands, no one could resist posing for a photo.