/ 3 January 2024

KZN raptor sanctuary forced to relocate because of land invasion

Africa Raptor Centre
African Wood-Owls at the African Raptor Centre. Photo supplied

After two decades at its current Camperdown site (between Durban and Pietermaritzburg) the African Raptor Centre (Arc) has been forced to move to a safer location because of land invasion, which has encroached onto Arc’s property and made operating the sanctuary untenable.

Arc CEO Ben Hoffman said the erection of illegal structures, which have been occupying much of the surrounding area, have recently started encroaching on the Arc property, posing a risk to the resources housed at the location and the safety of people and birds who visit or stay at the sanctuary.

Situated on Lion’s Park Road, Arc is an organisation committed to expanding education about birds of prey, providing rescue and rehabilitation for injured birds of prey, and breeding some of the species to repopulate the declining numbers in the wild.

Hoffman said that coupled with the safety concerns, illegal connections to the power and water supply has further threatened the availability of resources needed to care for the raptors.

While the municipality and law enforcement is aware of the land invasion issues, Hoffman said the centre could not afford to wait for a resolution, as the daily operations and function of the sanctuary was suffering and finding a new location that was desirable and safe for both occupants, workers and visitors became paramount.

Arc has been offered a space in Tala Game Reserve and is currently in the process of relocating the sanctuary.

However, along with the move comes huge added expenses, as many structures and enclosures have to be moved, as well as changes made to the facilities currently offered.

While the new location will exclude many of the facilities that the previous location had, Hoffman said the fundamentals of the Arc (conservation of raptors and education on said birds) still requires a substantial sum to be rebuilt.

“Raptors, unlike other birds such as budgies, require very specific enclosures which have to be built in accordance with international laws,” Hoffman said.

He said the move has been “heartbreaking” as Arc has had to retrench many longtime employees and say goodbye to a location which, over the years, was developed to include numerous facilities such as a restaurant, accommodation, and sheltered areas for visitors.

Added to the enclosures, other essential resources needed for the caring of the birds include food storage facilities and connections to electricity, water, and WiFi.

The process of moving is in full swing and Hoffman is optimistic about the new location, but is in desperate need of public assistance to make the move possible.

Arc is appealing for monetary donations towards the rebuilding of essential facilities and enclosures, as well as any volunteers who are willing to give of their time to assist with labour.

Hoffman anticipates that the new location will be open in February, in time for schools to bring pupils to see and learn about the birds.

For more information on how to assist, WhatsApp Arc on 0828573121.

This article was first published by The Witness.