Durban - A small dip in demands on the Centre for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife’s budget is not enough to keep the wildlife rescue operation going for more than 10 months.
Crow director Clint Halkett-Siddall said he hoped the slight relief in the usually incrementally increasing financial demands for the past financial year was a result of its tireless efforts to educate people.
“Over the past 14 years, 160 000 students have come through here,” he said
The organisation had funds to last sustainably for only 10 months.
During this time, many creatures undergoing treatment are scheduled to be released back into the wild. However, in spite of the apparent inroads made by the educational campaign, it was expected that a host of other animals would enter the gates for help at the first wildlife rehabilitation centre in South Africa at Yellowwood Park.
“Urbanisation and humans are behind the cause of so many animals coming here. They are so often hit by cars, bitten by dogs and shot at by people using pellet guns.”
Remaining behind for longer than the 10 months of the assured life of Crow will be vervet monkeys that take time to build into a successful troop with the correct number of dominant males and females, as well as members of various ages, before they can be safely released.
Also at risk is a Nile crocodile that, at 1.5m, is too small to be released into the wild where it would be vulnerable to predation by other crocodiles and large birds of prey. The reptile came to Crow in egg form, along with 22 potential siblings in a clutch of eggs that had been illegally harvested and is the only one of those that hatched.
“Crocs are slow growers. We don’t pump them up like croc farmers do,” said Halkett-Siddall, adding that the croc would be ready for release when he reached 2m, with a one-in-22 survival rate comparing favourably with the 1% survival rate in the wild.
He said the worst-case scenario would be for the rehabilitation centre, started in 1977 by Isolde Mellet, to move its animals to other rehabilitation centres, because that could lead to genetic contamination.
That, Halkett-Siddall said, was not conducive to releasing animals in the wild.
A host of creatures await release while funds last. Among them gennets, dassies, mongoose, a baby blesbok, blue duiker, grey duiker, a marsh owl and a spotted eagle owl.
And the the unknown number that are yet to be in need of help – an amount that would be more were it not for Crow’s education campaign putting a slight brake on the graph of financial demand.
For further information on how to help or to donate, visit crowkzn.co.za.
The Independent on Saturday