SPCA Staff Give Injured Wild Animals a Day of Care
The Witness, Thursday, February 8, 2007, written by Elizabeth Atmore and Asifa Essop
Left: SPCA clinic nurse Debbie Kleu watches over the rescued caracal after the bite on its right thigh was stitched up yesterday.
Right: SPCA senior inspector Daniel Stewart tracked down this injured crane on the N3 after receiving numerous calls about a "dangerous bird" on the road.
A bruised and battered crowned crane, and a chicken-pinching caracal had a taste of la dolce vita yesterday thanks to the Pietermaritzburg SPCA, who rescued the animals in two separate incidents. It was a case of "all in a day's work" for SPCA staff who were called out to rescue the crane from the N3 highway, where it had apparently flown into power lines, and the caracal from the jaws of death, in the form of two highly-motivated, chase Valley boerbuls.
Distress call to the SPCA are routine, said regional inspector Daniel Stewart, but they are often a "serious case of broken telephone" where the nature of the incident, or indeed the animal, is often unclear. Still slightly groggy, the crane was a perfect example of this, Stewart added. "I got a call yesterday morning from a farmer who said a truck had lost its load and that a dangerous bird was involved." Picturing a truckload of exotic birds, Stewart alerted the Hilton SPCA before rushing to find the spot along the highway. By the time the crane was located in Queen Elizabeth Park, it dawned upon Stewart that he had not stumbled upon a bird-smuggling ring but rather a lost creature, which had found itself a little worse for wear. The crane is blind in one eye, which Stewart thinks may be from a previous accident, and had injured a wing.
Life yesterday was also cheerier for the caracal, who not only had a bite wound to its right thigh stitched up, but was treated to a little grooming. He had wondered into a private residence in chase Valley where he was met by the owners' dogs. "He is lucky that a small bite is all he came away with, after facing those dogs. We are going to be releaseing him back to the wild in a much better condition than when he arrived, without all the ticks," he said.
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife spokesman Jeff Gaisford said that caracal live in bushy areas around Pietermaritzburg, roaming widely in summer. "They also live in the hills of Chase Valley, and get into trouble when they wonder down to pinch chickens."
Endangered Wildlife Trust field co-ordinator Andre Rossouw advised people to contact the local SPCA if they spot injured animals. Rossouw cautioned against moving injured animals as that could cause further harm. SA Crane Working Group manager Leon-Jaques Theron said that "the animal should be kept still whilst awaiting medical assistance, and one should always be cautious and take care not to cause harm either to themselves or to anybody else."
You can contact Stewart on 083 627 9736.