The secretary bird (sagittarius serpentarius) which had made OR Tambo International Airport his home has been released into the wild on the border of Gauteng and Mpumalanga after rehabilitation.
In the article OR Tambo’s secretary bird undergoes rehabilitation in Glenferness, Week ending 22 June, it was reported that the bird had changed its behavioural patterns.
The airport’s senior wildlife officer, Melisa Hofman had noticed that he was not scared when people approached him.
Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital’s wildlife rehabilitation specialist, Nicci Wright said Hofman contacted the hospital and specialist Penny Morkel, with some help, managed to catch the bird at the airport. Wright added that an examination revealed that a swelling was found on the bird’s foot which was causing him some pain and discomfort.
“Radiographs revealed no bony changes and Dr Karin Lourens aspirated some of the fluid from the swelling and this was sent away for culture and antibiogram determination at Idexx Laboratory,” said Wright.
“Tests determined the type of bacteria responsible for the infection and we gave him the correct antibiotic to fight the infection. The bird stayed with us until the infection cleared, and a telemetry unit was fitted so that his movements can be properly monitored post-release.”
She said they were delighted to finally set the bird free. “Melissa Whitecross, Caroline Howes, Craig Nattrass and myself drove out to the grasslands of Devon on the border of Gauteng and Mpumalanga provinces to release the secretary bird.
“It was quite stressful having the bird in our care as big birds need to be out in the outlands and we could see that it was stressful for him being in a confined space.”
Wright explained that they released the bird at that location as opposed to taking it back to the airport, due to concern that the bird might fly into an aeroplane. “This is why it was very important to have him released into a suitable habitat for his species.”
She added that Airports Company South Africa sponsored a tracking device so that BirdLife South Africa could monitor the bird’s movements and add this data to its repository of tracked secretary birds.
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