Many thanks for everyone’s continued support and enthusiasm for our wildlife rehabilitation centre, the C.R.E.W. are as excited as you are.
Whilst still in the setting-up stages, however, we are unable to accept patients for rehab. In the mean time, we are more than happy to offer advice on any wildlife-related issues you might be having, and are also willing to take animals in in order to have them checked by our vet and moved on to relevant facilities.
One of the biggest challenges we face as a wildlife rehabilitation centre is having little control over the critical period between when an animal is picked up, and the time that it reaches our facility.
Often “too much” is done in this time, with every intention of helping; so here we offer advice to finders who wish to give these animals every chance of survival, recovery, rehabilitation and, ultimately, release!
Be very careful when handling any animal. Do not put yourself in danger over a wild animal. It is best to contact local authorities like Cape Nature or SANParks, perhaps your local S.P.C.A. or your nearest rehabilitation centre.
Remember: nature rarely produces a bad mother – babies do not just get abandoned!
What do I do if I find a sick/injured/abandoned bird?
- be sure that your intervention is absolutely necessary; remember that once that animal enters the human world, its survival and subsequent chances of being a wild animal again are dramatically reduced.
- if in doubt, leave alone, re-check the situation in an hour or two, or phone an expert for advice. If, on returning, the bird has not moved or is showing due signs of stress, you are probably best to get involved.
- when a bird is in the fledgling stage, they leave the nest and start to explore, often ending up on the ground. These are all normal occurrences and, as much as possible, best ignored. The parent bird will follow and feed accordingly and doesn’t need any help.
if able to identify the nest that a chick has fallen out of, you can try to return in. Birds do not have a sense of smell, so your contact with a nestling will not induce abandonment from a parent.The important thing here is to ensure your safety first; do not climb difficult and dangerous areas just for the sake of trying to reunite a chick with its mother.
- there can be a problem posed by domestic cats, and should you feel they are of concern to the situation, you are best to intervene.
What do I do if I find a sick/injured/abandoned mammal?
- it is important to note, most mammals do not keep their babies with them at all times. This protects the baby, but is also the most common time for us to come across them and mistakenly assume they have been abandoned.
- before just picking the animal up, make a note of where the baby is and leave the area, come back in about one hour.
- do hourly checks. By now, if the mother has not come and gone, the young animal in front of you will be showing some distress and hunger signs. Intervention is now justified.
- never offer the animal any food or water.
- minimise handling and get the animal to a rehabilitation centre or vet practice as quickly as possible. Handling will stress the animal, cause problems such as diarrhoea, and will severely lessen its chance of survival in the next few days. If possible, let the centre know that you are on your way with this animal so that they can be best prepared for your arrival.
- put the animal into a box and keep sounds down to a minimum. If you do not have a box, then get the animal covered with a thin blanket so as not to overheat it.
How do I transfer the animal?
- keep the animal covered at all times – preferably use a box (with air holes), but a towel, blanket or even an item of clothing can be sufficient.
- if possible, take this animal straight to a rehabilitation facility or vet practice. Remember, the quicker this animal can get to a professional facility, the better its chances are of survival.
- if unable to drop the animal with an expert, keep it in a dark secure box (with air holes), keep it warm and, most importantly, undisturbed, until relocated. An animal must be allowed to shut down if it is to then make a recovery.
- do not be tempted to check on the patient, this will cause immense stress as we are essentially a top predator in the animal world, and are therefore of no comfort!
- never give the animal any food or water. Incorrect food will almost certainly kill the animal, though maybe not immediately, and all new arrivals are put through a rehydration stabilisation process before food is ever considered. Likewise, water must be administered by an expert as it is a stressful process and can very easily slip on to the lungs and be fatal.