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ImageThe South African National Bird of Prey Centre believes that using falconry methods is one of the most sensible ways to treat injured birds of prey; this is also in line with international thinking. Birds of Prey have the status of being predators and the only way they can survive out there is by being 100 % fit and healthy. Studies have shown that between 60% to 85% of raptors don't make it out there in their first year.

Harsh, yes, but that's the way the creator designed it - survival of the fittest. Two of the main threats facing not only birds of prey but all life forms, are habitat destruction and poisons. Many birds of prey are threatened because their mortality rates have gone into the unnatural figures due to man's life style. All birds of prey released have to be 110% fit before we release them. If not, we are not only wasting time and money but also it would be criminal. Young birds are "hacked back" - a lengthy process where young birds are made familiar with a place of release before they can fly.

The young adopt the site as their "nest" where they know they receive food. Once the chicks start to fly they know to return to the site for their daily food. After a few weeks of learning the skills of flight, instinct kicks in and the young learn to catch their own dinner, and start to disburse from the hack site. Older birds that have hunted for themselves prior to arriving at the centre have to be flown and hunted prior to release to make sure their fit and healthy. The Centre receives birds from various other rehabilitation centres, zoos, nature conservation officers and the public. All birds are assessed by the Centre's vet and then looked after by the centres staff.

Code Unfortunately not all the birds can be released back into the wild, some die from their injuries, others have to be euthenased and others become part of the flying teams or potential breeders. We see them as ambassadors for their species. Our methods have been criticised by some, but we believe in what we are doing, and I'm pleased to say many are now changing their ways and more and more rehabilitator's are using us as a second phase rehabilitator to release the injured birds they have nursed. No man is an island!

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