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Read the on-going stories from the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in KwaZulu-Natal. It is a wildlife hospital that cares for injured and orphaned wild animals and birds, and is the only  Rehabilitation Center of its kind in the Province.


Delia, a rescued baby Duiker
New admission to the Wildlife Rehabilitation center, Delia, the baby Grey Duiker! Approximately 10 days old, Delia was rescued from a man who was trying to make a quick buck by selling her on the side of the road. Thankfully a caring member of the public intervened and helped get her to the center before any harm could come to her. Severely dehydrated and covered in ticks, Delia was in a bad state when she arrived at the center. However, a few days under the care of the Clinic Nurse, Sue Ann, and we are pleased to report she is already doing much better!

Bugsy, the Bushbaby
Undoubtedly one of the cutest admissions here at the center this Spring, Bugsy, the baby Bushbaby arrived at the Center in early November having been found in a residential garden in Empangeni. Crying piteously for his mother who was nowhere to be found, Bugsy was bundled up and brought down to the Center where Mabel Watts, the Center’s Primate Manager, was anxiously awaiting his arrival.

As Africa’s smallest primates, Bushbabies are still fairly common though infamously difficult to spot in the wild due to their nocturnal habits. True to his species, Bugsy, who is a Thick-tailed Bushbaby, spends most of his day sleeping in between regular bottle-feeds. Bugsy will remain at the Center for the next few months following which he will be released back into the wild.

A Second Chance at Life
The joy of a new Spring arrival at the Rehabilitation Center soon turned to sorrow in late September as Jozi, one of our much loved Chacma Baboons gave birth to her first baby. The tiny bundle of dark brown fur was named Chance and clung firmly to his mother who initially appeared to be in good health and coping well in the hours following her baby’s delivery. A mere 48 hours later and it was clear that all was not well with Jozi who was not eating and losing her strength at a rapid rate. The team worked desperately to coax Jozi, who was still clinging onto Chance, into the holding area of the baboon enclosure so the Center’s Vet could sedate and examine her. Sadly, while the team eventually managed to coax her into the safety of the holding area, the act of getting herself there proved too much for Jozi and she passed away shortly after.

An autopsy later revealed that Jozi died of a heart attack as a result of a pre-existing heart condition and the additional stress brought on by giving birth. Little Chance, who was severely dehydrated and weighing only 900 grams at the time, was immediately given fluids and handed over to the Center’s Primate Manager, Mabel Watts who was to become his surrogate mom.

Nine weeks on and little Chance is doing incredibly well under Mabel’s devoted care and attention. The team is hopeful that in the months to come, young Chance will play a significant role in helping us to successfully merge our two existing baboon troops and so aid in their successful return to the wild.

Savannah’s Leap to Freedom
Thursday, the 18th October was a day of intense excitement for the Center team as Savannah, the Serval began her much anticipated journey to freedom. Following 6 months of intensive hand-rearing at the Center, Savannah was transported to a pre-release boma in the middle of Phinda Private Game Reserve. The plan was to release Savannah into the general reserve 10 days later, however 7 days in, the team got a call from the reserve to say there was no need as the previous night, Savannah had miraculously leapt over the boma fence, thus freeing herself! Thankfully, Savannah was having no problems catching her prey in the boma and the team is very hopeful that this time next year, Savannah will be spotted with her first litter of kittens.

Wendy, the Willful Warthog
A firm contender for “Personality of Year”, Wendy the baby Warthog has unashamedly wormed her way into our staffs’ hearts over the past few weeks thanks to her willful and playful nature. Arriving at the Center in early November after she was found abandoned by rangers in Tala Private Game Reserve, Wendy was in a rather sorry state due to dehydration and a rather nasty eye infection. But thanks to the care and devotion of Estie Allan, the Center’s Clinic Manager and her new surrogate mom, Wendy is now fit as a fiddle and growing at a rapid rate. All going well, Wendy will be released in a few months time once she is fully weaned and ready to fend for herself.

Dassie Fever!
The team at the Center have certainly had their hands full over the past few weeks with no less than eleven baby Dassies (or Rock Hyrax as they are now known) making their way to the center. Each baby has its own story as to how it ended up at the Center, but the most bizarre and concerning are the three that were recently found stashed in a bin in the Ladies bathrooms of a Durban-based office block. Sadly, our team believes these little ones were destined for the local muthi market, as Dassies are increasingly targeted by traditional healers for their body parts.

Thankfully, these feisty youngsters are now in the safe hands of the Center’s Animal Welfare Assistant, Sue-Ann Shutte who will be hand-rearing them over the next few months. As is the case of all our animals here at the Center, the team will work with its numerous partners to identify a suitable release site where the Dassies will be safe from predators (namely man!) and can live out the rest of their natural lives in peace.

Back to Nature
Spring is not only baby season here at the Center, it is also release season! Food and water are most plentiful during our Spring and Summer months, so it stands to reason that the team at the Center tries to plan as many releases as possible at this time of the year, thus ensuring our animals have the best chance of survival back in the wild.

We are pleased to report that in October and November alone, the Center returned over 220 animals to their rightful place in the wild. The animals were released at numerous pre-identified sites across the province. Animals released by the team included our two Reed Buck, Andy and Clyde who were set free at Intibane Private Game Lodge in Ulundi and nine Banded Mongoose who have happily made Tala Private Game Reserve in Camperdown their new home.

ANIMAL CHATTER:  "With the help of our volunteers, we have just released a troop of Vervet monkeys that need monitoring for the next 3 months on a game reserve. It was a very satisfying experience to see them run free. We have a bush pig that is roaming in the surrounding forest and we are trying to trap it. Once it is caught, which will be in the middle of the night probably, it will immediately need to be taken to a release site. Click here to see the photo gallery

We've had our first baby monkey and a baby new-born springbok recently (so cute!) and we also have some of the most interesting birds at the moment, including a spotted eagle owl, lots of baby hadeda’s, a baby spoonbill and lots of smaller funny babies birds like a hoepoe."


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Delia, the Baby Grey Duiker

Bugsy, the rescued bush-baby
Bugsy, the rescued Bushbaby

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Chance, sadly orphaned at birth
Chance, sadly orphaned at birth, but now doing well :-)

Wendy, the Wilful Warthog!
Wendy, the Wilful Warthog!

Dassie Fever!
Dassie Fever!

A heartwarming sight - released into freedom!
A heartwarming sight - released into the wild ... natural freedom!

Albino Hedgehog!

This hedgehog has been a bit of a mystery as we have spent the last couple of days trying to figure out what kind of hedgehog it is and if it is native to South Africa.

He appears to be an albino! The hedgehog was found in a garden with grass caught around one of its legs. The grass was so tight that it cut off the blood supply to its leg and the leg unfortunately had to be amputated.

We are hoping to discover exactly what breed he is within the next couple of days so that he can be transferred to another organisation that is better suited to finding him a new home. He is making a good recovery, however it is unlikely that he will be able to be released back into the wild with only three legs.

Mia, the baby black backed jackal

Mia, the baby black backed jackal

This is Mia, our Baby Black Backed Jackal.

We think she is about 4 weeks old. She was found all on her own on the side of the road with a bite mark on her neck. We assume she might have been taken out of her den by a predator.

She was brought into the Center by ESKOM District Conservation Officer for Ladysmith. In the past, he has brought in a white backed vulture and a secretary bird.

New Baby Baboon Arrival!

Mabel with the new baby baboon

This is Mabel with a new baby baboon that arrived yesterday afternoon.

"Nelson" was one of two baboons confiscated by the wildlife authorities. Unfortunately the other had to be euthanised as its forearm was chopped off, its testicles removed and its teeth pulled out. We believe these animals were caught for traditional medicine use, (muti) by traditional healers, (sangomas).

Very sad but hopefully we can get Nelson settled in soon. He has to have a TB test first before he can be joined with the two babies that Julie is currently taking care of.

A fourth baby is expected shortly which is coming from PE which has been confiscated by the Eastern Cape wildlife authorities. (By the way, we are the only center that is allowed to REHABILITATE baboons, others such as AD are sanctuaries, which means they have to keep the animal for the rest of its natural life.

That is way the fourth baby is being sent to us and not for example to somewhere closer to PE such as AD).

A new patient arrives at the Center!

A Cape Vulture that was suspected to be suffering from poisoning

This is a new patient that arrived at the Center yesterday, a Cape Vulture – it is suspected to be suffering from poisoning and has to be hand fed at the moment – scary but very impressive.

The Cape Griffon or Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres) is an Old World vulture in the family Accipitridae, which also includes eagles, kites, buzzards and hawks. It is endemic to southern Africa, and is found mainly in South Africa, Lesotho and Botswana. It nests on cliffs and usually lays one egg per year.

The average length is about 1 m (3.3 ft) with a wingspan of about 2.4 m (7.9 ft) and a body weight of 9.4 kg (21 lb). They are on average the largest raptor in Africa, although they are subservient to the powerful Lappet-faced Vulture.

The species is listed by the IUCN as "Vulnerable", the major problems it faces being poisoning, disturbance at breeding colonies and electrocution. The current population is estimated at 8,000.

Baby Porcupine Saved Off the Tracks by Hillary Train Driver

Spike the 3 month baby porcupine

A train driver from Hillary, Willem Delport, could not believe his eyes when he saw a small baby porcupine with the corpse of its mother on the train tracks outside Ladysmith. When he saw the baby a second day in a row, he decided he would stop his train in advance the next time he passed that section of rail.

On the third day, Willem stopped the train and picked up the tiny baby porcupine that could fit into the palm of his hand. Willem and his family bottle-fed the baby, hoping to release it back into the wild. However it grew fast and furiously and soon started nibbling at all the wrong things. “It ate our telephone cords and all kinds of electrical wiring” says William. This is because unbeknown to most people, porcupine’s are South Africa’s largest rodent and have to keep their teeth sharp. William brought “Spike” to Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Yellowwood Park.

“Spike is approximately 3 months old and will have to over winter with us, so that he can be given the best chance of survival”, says the Center's Director Sam Terblanche. “Spike is still a bit young and we are entering our autumn months - when we release animals we try and ensure this is done during a season when food is plentiful and animals can find their way around before the winter.” She asks the public to bring young animals into a rehab facility as soon as possible after they are found. “Inevitably wild animals are cute and cuddly when they are found, but soon enough they start growing up and become difficult to manage. By this time they have often also become used to human contact and it is so much more difficult to rehabilitate them. It is in the best interest of the animal that they start the rehabilitation process as soon as possible.”

Secretary Bird successfully released after recovery at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

It was a very lucky Secretary Bird, (Sagittarius serpentarius) that was found by conservation officers from the Ladysmith District. The beautiful bird was found lying on the side of the road and suffered severe trauma from most likely being hit by a vehicle.

The bird was taken to the local vet in Ladysmith were it survived the night and was transported to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, in Durban the following morning. The bird was very weak and dehydrated and staff initially did not think it would survive. “The first 24 hours are the most crucial to get through”, says SueAnne Fourie-Schutte, bird specialist at the Center. The bird was given lots of fluids and after 10 days had made a miracle recovery. This week the bird was successfully released back on a farm in the Ladysmith area near where it was found.

The Secretary bird is so named because of the crest of long feathers at the back of its head that resemble quill pens that 19th century clerks stuck in their wigs. Unlike other birds of prey, it has long legs and tail feathers. The genus Sagittarius refers to the bird’s resemblance to an archer and the species name, serpentarius to the fact that the birds are often seen preying on snakes. Be that as it may, secretary birds enjoy a varied diet consisting of insects, lizards, rats and even small tortoises. Small prey are picked up with the bill and then swallowed, whilst larger prey are first stamped to death and then eaten. One will also see the birds stamping their feet on the ground to flush out prey.

Although they are mostly seen on the ground, these birds can fly and nest in trees. They pair for life and are found throughout South Africa, although numbers have dwindled due to exposure to agricultural poisons. An interesting fact is that they are almost completely silent birds, except for a rare croaking sound that is uttered when displaying.

Should the public find an injured bird or any other wild animal, the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is the only rescue and rehabilitation center in the Province permitted to admit and treat all kinds of wildlife.

The story of Robbie the Baby Baboon so far ....

Volunteer Rebecca Long looking after 8-week-old Robbie who was orphaned and very badly treated before being brought to the Center

Our latest addition to the Rehabilitation center is Robbie the 8 week old baby baboon whose mother was unfortunately killed by hunting dogs and Robbie was locked in a room away from the dogs until a neighbour called the center to ask for assistance.

Once staff had collected Robbie they found he had a bump on his spine and its left hand had been burnt – (quite likely from the porridge it had been given to eat that was to hot)

He will need care for at least the next four months to ensure he is fit and healthy and can then hopefully be released back into the Wild.

Rebecca Long is volunteering with us for 9 weeks and has now been given the job as Robbie's surrogate mother along with another Vervet monkey called Snookie,

The bump on Robbie's spine was looked at by an Orthopaedic Surgeon and it sadly looked like it could be TB of the bones, the staff at the center had to then take Robbie away from Rebecca and put him in isolation, which was of course very hard to do but was in both Robbie and the other animals and staffs interest for safety/health reasons.

The results from further tests have since been sent back and Robbie tested negative for TB, so he is happily back in the arms of Rebecca being well looked after : - )

400 Animals released in 3 Months!

Amy, the baby Springbok, getting some much-needed tender loving care!

Over the last three months, 394 animals have been released back into the wild :-) into the wild. This is in keeping with our mission to rescue, rehabilitate and release. Those freed include 19 banded mongoose, duikers, a bushbaby, a bush pig, genets, water monitors, a pelican, sparrow hawks, steenbuck, spotted eagle owls, night adders and a large variety of wild birds.

During the Summer, there was the arrival of a newborn baby Springbok, Amy from Albert Falls Dam Nature Reserve. Amy was separated from her mother during a game count exercise and was brought to the Center with her umbilical cord still attached and not knowing how to suckle, but she learnt fast and is now almost ready to go back to her family.

Lucky number 13!!! This season 13 orphaned baby monkeys have been rescued and is in rehabilitation at the Center. Vervet monkeys are one of our most costly animals to rehabilitate as they have to stay with us for approximately two years whilst being structured into a troop capable of surviving in the wild.

Baby Baboon Confiscated in Zululand: An eight – week old baby baboon was recently confiscated in the Vryheid District by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. The baby’s mother was killed by hunting dogs and the baby locked up in a room when neighbours alerted the authorities. When ready it will join a troop of eight other baboons at the Center. Nineteen baboons have been successfully released back into the wild in the last 2 years.

Press Release: Releasing Bella and Eddie
Story by international PR Volunteer Natacha Torres, 2010, during her PR internship

Today, the Rehabilitation Center released two of their rescued grey duikers, Bella and Eddie, back into the wild at a 3 000 hectare Game Reserve in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal.

This morning most of the Rehabilitation Center staff and volunteers could be seen in the buck’s enclosure capturing the two duikers, and putting them into two animal carriers and at the back of the Rehabilitation Center's bakkie.

Bella and Eddie both became orphans after both their mothers were killed. Bella was confiscated from a man who was trying to sell her on the roadside in North Beach, and was admitted to the Rehabilitation Center when she was only 3 days old and has been hand reared. Eddie was found at two weeks old in Wartburg after being attacked by a dog; he suffered from a dislocation of the hip bone and was under veterinary treatment for many weeks. Like Bella he has also been hand reared.

We drove 68 km to have Bella, now 8 months old, and Eddie, 17 months old, released into a safe environment with over 380 species of bird, game such as rhino, kudu, hippo, giraffe and antelope as well a huge number of indigenous plant species. The release site was truly stunning, situated next to an Education  Rehabilitation Center, filled with wild long grass, surrounded by trees and a duiker-sized waterhole. A perfect home for these two displaced animals to come to!

After all the fuss of not wanting to be in the carrier back at the Rehabilitation Center, at the release site they didn’t seem to want to leave it. Eddie was the first to come out, curious to his new surroundings. Bella hid in the box until Sue-Ann, the Rehabilitation Center’s clinical nurse, tapped it. She shot out at such a speed, showing some of her fantastic jumping skills, and scaring poor Eddie. From there on they joyfully jumped back into the wild where they belong.

These duiker’s release are a prime example of what our staff at the Rehabilitation Center do on a daily basis”, says the Center's Director, Samantha Terblanche, “it is one of the most rewarding jobs, but also an emotionally difficult one, especially when you have to release the animals you practically raised as your own children”. Rescue, rehabilitate and then release, from bird to buck, to the fastest of cats and the slowest of tortoise, this is what they strive to do on a daily basis.
Press Release: Clover the Vervet Monkey
by Natascha Torres – PR Intern, January 2010
This week the Rehabilitation Center received Clover, a Vervet monkey, who climbed into the back of a delivery cooler truck where she suffered serious injuries from getting hit by a large fan. The fan sliced her head and her face leaving her with serious open wounds from her nose to her lower jaw, eyebrow, tongue and the top of her head, as well as destroying all her bottom teeth and shattering the bones in her left hand.

The driver of the truck explained that Saturday whilst offloading, a group of Vervet monkeys had jumped into the back of the truck, however he and some men managed to chase all the monkeys out of the truck, or so they thought… It was Monday morning when the driver noticed a destroyed fan and Clover lying on the floor covered in blood, assuming she was dead he bent over to pick her up when she twitched. Clover was rushed to the Rehabilitation Center where she was immediately taken to a vet to be operated on, it was feared that she would not survive due to a lot of blood loss, pain and trauma, but thankfully the operation went extremely well.

She is the newest patient at the Rehabilitation Center and is constantly kept under the watchful eyes of the clinical nurses as well as the rest of the staff, she is currently having to be hand fed due to the extent of her injuries, one arm has a cast and she is unable to chew, so she is fed with a syringe and eats pureed food, but luckily being only 15 months old it was only her baby teeth that got knocked out, so she should grow her adult teeth!

With some more medical treatment and a lot of care, she has a chance of surviving and she will eventually be released back into the wild close to where she was found.

This is one of the many devastating stories found at the Rehabilitation Center, but hopefully it will have a happy ending, Mabel Watts, Primate Manager at the  Rehabilitation Center explained, “Vervets being the inquisitive, cheeky things that they are often get into accidents, but Clover after only being with us for a couple of days is looking much better and should make a full recovery.”

Mabel Watts also added “I have to enforce, if you ever see an animal lying on the road, do not assume it dead. So many animals could be saved if people just took a moment to go check.”
Baby Spotted Genets  - June 2009

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TWO baby spotted genets were rescued after being attacked by dogs in Howick last month.

In two separate incidents, the three-month-old genets were taken to the Rehabilitation  Rehabilitation Center in Durban after residents alerted staff to the attacks.
Houdini was attacked by a Jack Russell terrier and Genie by an Alsatian.

Natasha Brown, the  Rehabilitation Center spokeswoman, said that when the genets arrived at the  Rehabilitation Center, they had bite marks on their heads and puncture wounds to their faces and bodies.

Brown said the animals received specialised treatment, antibiotics and were hand fed a mixture of Kitty Milk (cat formula) and SMA infant formula.
“They are now on a special diet of meat, eggs, fruit and fish,” she said.

Brown said that both animals were on their way to making a full recovery.

“The recovery period for each animal varies, but they will be staying with us until they are able to fend for themselves,” she said.

Brown said once they have recovered, the genets will be released back into their natural environment.

Brown said genets are timid animals and the Rehabilitation  Rehabilitation Center has been receiving increased numbers of them. Most have been attacked by dogs or caught in traps.

The Rehabilitation  Rehabilitation Center is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation that relies solely on the public and corporate companies for donations and funding.

Genets are superficially cat-like creatures, despite being unrelated to felines. Most of them have spotted coats and large, banded tails, small heads and large ears. Genets have strong musk glands, which they use to mark their territory. They are highly agile and have exceptional climbing skills. Their diet consists of mostly rodents, birds, reptiles and fruit. They are extremely timid animals.