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The work of nature’s hero

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to Simon Cowell Animal Planet

MAN KIND: Simon Cowell with one of his animal orphans on Wildlife SOS.

Growing up, some of my peers took the saying “boys will be boys” a little more seriously than they should have. We didn’t have many toys or game consoles, so for us entertainment was home-made.

From building wire cars to planning our mini-Olympics, there was no limit to the things we could do with our time. It didn’t help that opposite our neighbourhood was a thick protected forest which we would always sneak into. Here some of the boys thought it great fun to practise their hunting skills and soon every lizard and bird they came across was in trouble.

Luckily for those poor creatures most of the boys were poor marksmen, being urban kids.

But there were those animals that were unlucky and, looking back, it is somewhat cringe-worthy to remember what we witnessed, especially with today’s information on how some species are extinct, or on the brink of extinction.

Though I have no blood on my hands, I remember marvelling at some of the older boys who could make snares to catch birds and I did nothing to stop them. At nine years old, nothing else mattered.

Had Wildlife SOS’s Simon Cowell (not The X Factor dude) caught wind of what my hunter-gatherer brothers were up to, they would probably still be doing time.

Being a lover of animals, the presenter travels the world shooting heroic acts of kindness showered on animals, thereby saving them from situations akin to what my young friends put them in.

Sometimes the animals find themselves in situations of ill health or victims of accidents.

Attached to The Wildlife Aid Foundation, Cowell sniffs out ill, hurt and orphaned animals to give them the appropriate help. The foundation is Cowell’s brainchild and it received immense media attention in 1996 after a fire broke out at the hospital complex from which he operated.

Animal Planet paid Cowell a visit and pitched the idea of a TV show which documents what happens in an animal rescue facility. This was almost two decades ago and today this show is considered the longest-running TV series.

Although the scope of the show appears to be only in Europe, Cowell and his team go anywhere in the world. In some episodes we see him in Cape Town rescuing penguins at a construction site.

The organisation deals with more than 20 000 cases a year, so they are always inundated with work. Every success story sees the team place the rescued animal back into the wild.

Each episode deals with different cases. If you do not enjoy seeing the sometimes gritty bits when they find the injured animals, then perhaps you will enjoy seeing them being treated and recuperating. There is no species that Cowell and his volunteers specialise in, any case is treated with utmost respect.

• Wildlife SOS, Tuesday, Animal Planet (DStv channel 183), 10pm.


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