Raptor Rescue

Rescue, Rehabilitate, Release


Project Vulture

The Zululand Vulture Project is a collaborative conservation initiative to protect the Lappet-faced, White-backed and White-headed Vulture populations in the Zululand region of northern Kwazulu-Natal. Spearheaded by Wildlife Act (http://wildlifeact.com/), the Endangered Wildlife Trust and Ezemvelo Kzn Wildlife, the project has been supported by Eskom, Raptor Rescue and private landowners since 2009. The project falls under the umbrella of Project Vulture (http://projectvulture.org.za). Education, training and monitoring are all part of the outreach and research work the project does in an effort to create awareness for the plight of diminishing vulture populations, as well as the vital role they play in the ecosytem. 

The Bearded Vulture Recovery Project is a research and conservation initiative that Raptor Rescue is involved in. Falling under the umbrella of Project Vulture (http://projectvulture.org.za), the BVRP aims to establish a captive breeding population of Bearded Vultures with the aim of re-introducing this species into suitable habitat to supplement the rapidly diminishing wild population of only approximately 300 birds. 

The Urban Ecology of the Crowned Eagle in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa

Research into the urban ecology of Crowned Eagles has formed the basis of Dr Shane McPherson's PhD thesis, and continues to be part of further post doc research he is doing on the species. (https://www.facebook.com/CrownedEagleResearch) The project is run by the University of Kwazulu-Natal, and supported by Raptor Rescue. The project focuses on the urban ecology of Crowned Eagles in the Greater Durban and coastal areas, and several of the juvenile eagles fledged from nests in these areas have been fitted with SAFRING and colour rings with an alpha-numeric code on. Please report any sightings to shane.mcpherson@gmail.com or kznraptorrescue@gmail.com. Raptor Rescue has been extensively involved in this project, assisting with field trips, the development and application of a human/wildlife conflict program, as well as treating any injured eagles that have been brought in under the scope and reach of the project. 

The Owl Box Project

The Owl Box Project is the pilot project run under Predatory Bird Projects (https://www.facebook.com/owlboxproject) and is supported by the N3 Toll Concession (http://www.n3tc.co.za/)   The installation of owl boxes in both urban and rural communities has encouraged the protection and conservation of owls in these areas as part of environmentally friendly pest control management. Comprehensive data has been collected from the project that will be available for future research on urban/rural owl population dynamics. The project has supported educational outreach in rural areas, particularly targeting schools, to encourage active participation and interest in owl conservation.      


The Fish Eagle Project

The Fish Eagle Project is a collaborative project between the University of Kwazulu-Natal and Raptor Rescue and forms part of Dr. Lorinda Hart's post-doctoral research. We currently have 4 rehabilitated fish-eagles (3 females and 1 male; 2 immature birds and 2 adults) which are in temporary hack enclosures in the Midlands and Underberg regions, awaiting release. The fish eagles will be fitted with tracking devices prior to release to help identify post release dispersal and if birds remain in the area of release. Long term data will highlight home-range size and movement patterns of Fish Eagles. We will also be able to identify post-release success and survival of these birds. All of this will in turn facilitate conservation and rehabilitation methods for this species. 

Post-release success and dispersal of rehabilitated Jackal Buzzards 

The rehabilitation of injured wildlife is concluded with the successful release of an individual into the wild. Yet, it is important for rehabilitation centres to determine if their rehabilitation techniques are effective, their release sites suitable, and how far individuals move from where they have been released in order to effectively manage resources and promote the survival of individuals returned to the wild. While transmitters fulfil these requirements, these technologies are often costly and are not feasible to use in large quantities. Raptor Rescue fits each individual bird with a metal SAFRING to identify it when it is re-sighted, but these re-traps and ring returns are rare. Raptor Rescue has therefore started a collaborative project with Dr. Lorinda Hart and Prof. Colleen Downs from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg campus, fitting alpha-numeric colour rings to rehabilitated Jackal Buzzards Buteo rufofuscus prior to their release. The rings are black with white lettering and are easily visible on the buzzards’ bare legs, allowing mark re-sighting. We encourage our supporters and followers to please look carefully at wild Jackal Buzzards, often perched next to roads, and to report any colour ring sightings to rinjordaan@gmail.com or kznraptorrescue@gmail.com as this will greatly assist us in determining if the final stage of rehabilitation; the release, was successful.    

Long-crested Eagle Project

This is a PhD project that was undertaken by Machawe Maphalala at the beginning of 2016 under the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The main focus of the research is to investigate how land-use changes affect habitat use of Long-crested Eagles, particularly breeding birds. Part of the research involves attaching GPS transmitters to birds that will be used to estimate home ranges and habitat use. The study area covers Durban, Pietermaritzburg and the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal. The birds have been fitted with alpha-numeric colour rings as well as the standard SAFRINGs. Please report sightings to machawe158@gmail.com or kznraptorrescue@gmail.com. Raptor Rescue is extensively involved in this project including assistance with the trapping, ringing and tagging of birds. 

The genetic basis of plumage polymorphism in the black sparrowhawks 

This is an MSc project undertaken by Edmund Rodseth from the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Cape Town. The Black Sparrowhawk is a medium sized raptor native to sub-saharan Africa which exists in two distinct adult plumage morphs. The dark and light morphs are distinguished by the extent of white plumage on the throat, chest and belly, but what causes this difference is unknown. This project aims to determine the differences occurring at a genetic level between the light and dark morphs which result in the differences in plumage colouration. As plumage variation is likely due to differences in the production of the pigment melanin, Edmund is identifying some of the key genes involved in melanin production and will compare their activity between dark and light morphs. In this way, he hopes to pinpoint the gene responsible for the differences in plumage.. This will be useful in population monitoring, as the future adult plumage morph is not apparent in juveniles or chicks. If the genetic basis of the polymorphism were known, however, a simple test could be devised to determine the future adult morph in chicks or juveniles.