Oct 22, 2011

Barry the Bateleur

We are going to let someone else tell you this story. Here's the email we've received:

Outside my room, I noticed a fully grown Bateleur Eagle sitting on the ground in the shade of a large Mopane tree. I rushed to do a morning check out after drive, returning to find that it still hadn't moved. I decided to investigate, smelling and finding a dead large-spotted genet not far from this beautiful raptor. He let me get uncharacteristically close without taking off. Sometimes letting nature take its course is the right method to go but that day it was different. Seeing a power-line near to where the bird was sitting and having the female calling it from the air above me was enough to make me think otherwise.

Realising something was definitely wrong with him, I called a few of the other rangers and after phoning Moholoholo we decided to catch him and take him into their Rehabilitation Centre. Riaan, Charlee, Mike and I became attached to "Barry the Bateleur" on the trip into Hoedspruit as he sat in a crate quietly enjoying our company and the cool breeze of the air-conditioning. A couple hours later they called back to say he had been poisoned. The genet had obviously eaten a rat that had been poisoned by our neighbours. We buried it on our return to the lodge to prevent any further incidents, knowing that we couldn't be responsible as we make use of environmentally friendly products.
Just 5 days later, Barry was brought back to Ngala to be set free again after a few days on a drip in recovery. They are very territorial birds that pair for life so we got the guests as excited and as involved in the release process now understanding the significance. In about 30 seconds, he had hobbled out the box and taken to flight joining a female that was flying around in the area.
What a moment it was to see the success unfold. We can only presume it was his partner who had been flying around alone at the time.

-Andrew Nicholson, Ngala Safari Lodge Ranger

Behind the scenes, seems like it is bird poisoning season as we've had a Bateleur, Whalberg’s eagle and a Vulture brought in for poisoning in less than 2 weeks. To save these birds from dying we have to tube them every two hours. This task is carried on even throughout the night. Lack of sleep is not important when an animal’s life is in the line.

We are happy that this particular story had a happy ending and that the two bateleurs could be reunited. We know this success story has made all of us happy.

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