World of Birds Wildlife Sanctuary and Monkey Park in Hout Bay File photo: INLSA
Popular tourist attraction the World of Birds Wildlife Sanctuary and Monkey Park in Hout Bay has cited the avian influenza disease as the major reason for selling a portion of the property to keep the doors open.

Africa’s largest bird park needs at least R1 million to carry on with their services through the next season.

The manager and co-owner of World of Birds, Hendrik Louw, said they were selling a prime piece of land of 4 000m², situated off Valley Road, for the first time in more than 40 years.

“The sale of the land comes as we are faced with severe financial constraints so the critical fund-raising initiative is to keep this vital landmark and bird sanctuary operations. This is the aftermath of the bird flu. We lost over 500 birds and that includes wild birds that died in the property.

“Even though we’ve been clear of the disease over the last seven months, it’s a process to have the quarantine lifted,” Louw added.

He said the number of visitors had dropped as some reports had said humans could be affected by the outbreak.

“We’re not generating enough income and, with the economic decline, we are unfortunately now facing a financial crisis and are in dire need of funding.

"We have been forced to the point that we are looking at subdividing and getting rid of part of the property. We have got Seeff, a Hout Bay agent, involved and they are already advertising the property.

“The worst part is that if we are forced to shut down the park, 45 people would be unemployed and it would be a huge loss to wildlife because so many animals are in the sanctuary permanently and can’t be released.

“We don’t know where they could be placed or if there are enough facilities that can take them, so it’s a very stressful period. We have a lot of sleepless nights so we’re calling for anyone who can sponsor us to assist,” said Louw.

The park performs an important community service as a haven for sick and injured birds and small animals. It is the only organisation of its kind in Cape Town and is highly dependent on donations.

Seeff said that, according to Propstats data, vacant land in Hout Bay had sold for R1.7m to R3m. About R2.5m was expected from the sale of the property.

Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde said the park played an important role in sustaining and growing the province’s economy.

“The park is a popular tourist attraction, and a unique offering in the city. As such, it plays a role in generating tourism revenues, as well as creating jobs.

"While it is difficult to quantify the impact of the potential closure of the park, it is safe to say that it will definitely impact job creation, and tourism revenues in the city and in Hout Bay specifically.

“The development met with the park’s management earlier this year and, while the department cannot provide financial support, it can assist and guide the facility in developing a turnaround strategy, exploring new strategies to attract more visitors, and developing ways to generate additional revenue,” said Winde.