Raptor Rescue

Rescue, Rehabilitate, Release

About Us

Raptor Rescue is a non-profit organisation established by biologist Ben Hoffman in 2001. It is the only dedicated bird of prey rehabilitation center in South Africa. On average the clinic treats about 100 - 120 birds of prey a year, which come in as sick, injured or orphaned cases. 

The facilities at the center include a clinic with a treatment room, 8 treatment boxes, and 2 recovery rooms. There are 2 outdoor blocks of recovery enclosures, a 20 meter flight tunnel for owls, and a 75 meter flight tunnel for big birds of prey like eagles and vultures. 

Raptor Rescue is also affiliated to other organisations working with birds of prey. It has a historical association with the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary, who neighbors it on the same property. It has been extensively involved with assisting researchers from the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), Ezemvelo Kzn Wildlife, the University of Kwazulu-Natal (UKZN), the Percy FitzPatrick Institute, as well as from outside of South Africa. 

Raptor Rescue is registered and permitted by Ezemvelo Kzn Wildlife, and has been instrumental in setting up the norms and standards for bird of prey rehabilitation in Kwazulu-Natal.

The Team

Ben Hoffman

Biologist Ben Hoffman is the founder of Raptor Rescue. He has been passionate about birds of prey from an early age, and was an active falconer from his high school days. He has over 3 decades of experience working closely with raptors in Zimbabwe and South Africa. 

He worked for the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management before he moved on to doing specialized wildlife capture after getting his dangerous drugs license. Apart from his hands on work as an experienced rehabilitator, Ben has also been involved in the captive management and breeding of raptors, including two Red Data species. 

He is presently very involved in research and tracking projects for raptors, and manufactures his own transmitters, designed specifically for each species he works with. 

Tammy Caine

Tammy is the Project Manager for Raptor Rescue. The daughter of an ex game ranger and wildlife rehabilitator, working with wildlife is very much a passion for her. 

After receiving her Diploma in Nature Conservation, she went on to work for several years at the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary doing education and public flying displays with birds of prey. Her interest in animal training and behavior led to her becoming an explosive detection dog trainer till she was offered a position at Raptor Rescue.

Apart from running the administration of the clinic, and assisting with hands on work with the patients, she is most actively involved with the research and community education projects that Raptor Rescue supports. 

Andile Nzuza

Andile is a jack of all trades at the centre. He started his career working with birds of prey as a groundsman at the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary. 

Working for Raptor Rescue he has proved invaluable in his fluency with Zulu and English, and has given many talks to Zulu communities on the importance of protecting owls, as well as translating educational material on owls. 

He is in charge of general maintenance at the clinic, and his skills as a handyman are impressive. He is also responsible for the daily care of the birds in the recovery enclosures, as well as the record keeping on these birds. His interest and enjoyment in his work is evident in all that he does. 

The Committee

Presently Ben Hoffman fills the role of Chairman and Tammy Caine of Secretary on the Raptor Rescue Release Committee. The primary aim of the committee is to discuss the options available for difficult cases that have been admitted to Raptor Rescue. Non-releasable birds may need to be euthanized based on the nature of their permanent disabilities, or transferred to a captive facility depending on their conservation and educational value. 

The secondary aims of the committee are to discuss and implement a broad variety of topics relating to the standard of work done specifically by Raptor Rescue, and to bird of prey research and conservation on a broader scale. 

The rest of the committee is made up of the following valuable members:

Dr Oliver Tatham - (BVSc) Onderstepoort

Dr Tatham is a Veterinary Surgeon who has been practicing since 1983, and is currently based at Veterinary House Hospital in Pietermaritzburg. 

His areas of interest include Avian and Exotic Medicine and Surgery, Small Animal Medicine and Surgery and Game Capture. His involvement with wildlife started when people began bringing him injured birds, and has grown since then to the point he is the primary vet for several facilities dealing with wild animals. 

Dr Tatham has been Raptor Rescue's dedicated veterinarian since the rehabilitation center was first established, and has been invaluable to the release success of the birds admitted to the center, especially those who have needed orthopedic procedures.  

Dr Lorinda Hart - (PhD) UKZN

Dr. Hart is a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. 

She has broad research interests, but is especially interested in ecophysiology, and urban and invasive ecology. Her primary research focus has been on Jackal Buzzards, where she is looking at morphometric variations, movement patterns and genetic diversity of this species. She is also collaborating on research projects on Spotted Eagle-Owls and Long-crested Eagles. She is currently involved in several other projects on a range of species including fruit bats, Woolly-necked storks and a variety of seabirds from the Seychelles. 

New research she hopes to undertake will involve tracking the movements and analyzing the post-release success of rehabilitated African Fish-Eagles. She is a member of the Bearded Vulture Task Force and willingly assists with the conservation and research of birds of prey where she can.

Dr. Hart has been involved with Raptor Rescue since 2009 when she was doing her ringing apprenticeship under Dr Mark Brown. She now heads up the research and ringing training at Raptor Rescue. 

Dr Lindy Thompson - (PhD) UKZN

Dr Thompson, BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD is a GreenMatter Fellow and Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Her involvement with Raptor Rescue began in 2010, when she worked for the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary, and Ben Hoffman began her raptor ringing training. She went on to supervise the care of the raptors when Ben was absent, and prompted by Dr Mark Brown from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, initiated the annual report on Raptor Rescue's admittance records and statistics. She is presently collaborating on the Spotted Eagle-Owl research project with Tammy Caine and Dr Lorinda Hart. 

She has worked as a research assistant on the breeding wader project for BirdWatch Ireland, and as a warden on two reserves in the UK for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. She did her MSc in Wildlife Management and Conservation through the University of Reading in the UK, studying the nesting density and breeding success of Eurasian Eagle-owls Bubo bubo in southern Spain. In 2014 she received her PhD at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) on Flexibility in the Metabolic Rate of Cape White-eyes.  She is currently into her second year as a postdoctoral researcher at UKZN, studying the ecology and movements of Hooded Vultures Necrosyrtes monachus in the Kruger-to-Canyons Biosphere Reserve.

Brent Coverdale

Brent Coverdale is an Animal Scientist specializing in mammals and birds. He works at the Head Office of our local wildlife authority, Ezemvelo Kzn Wildlife, in the Biodiversity Research and Assessment division. He is also the Chair of the Oribi Working Group and the Leopard Hunting Advisory Forum.

He first became involved with Raptor Rescue when he was stationed as the District Conservation Officer for the area. Even though his first love is Cranes, his interest and knowledge of birds of prey has grown over the years, due in part to his involvement with Raptor Rescue. 

Hi is currently responsible for overseeing a number of bird related projects, most notably for the critically endangered Blue Swallow and Wattled Crane. Within the vast scope of bird related conservation projects in the Kwazulu-Natal province, he is also involved in understanding the range expansion of the Palm-nut Vulture, the extent of the distribution of the exotic Helmeted Guinea Fowl, and developing control methods for problem birds. 

Outside of formal work requirements, he is working towards becoming a qualified bird ringer.