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Trends in the admission of raptors to the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, Limpopo province, South Africa

Published in: African Zoology
Volume 57, issue 1, 2022 , pages: 56–63
DOI: 10.1080/15627020.2021.2016073
Author(s): N Mbali Mashele, South Africa, Lindy J Thompson, South Africa, Colleen T Downs, South Africa

Abstract

Raptors have crucial functions, both ecologically and as environmental indicators. Currently, many raptor species worldwide are threatened, and the potential loss of functional groups will yield dire consequences. We identified the trends and causes of raptor admissions to the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, Limpopo province, South Africa, using information from the case files of 629 individual raptors from 44 species that were admitted between 1996 (month unspecified) and February 2018. The most frequently admitted raptor species were the Western Barn Owl Tyto alba (n = 130), Spotted Eagle-owl Bubo africanus (n = 81) and White-backed Vulture Gyps africanus (n = 53). Raptors came from as far away as Ghana, although most of the birds were from Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces, South Africa. In 48% of cases (n = 304), the causes of injuries were not documented. Of the 252 cases in which the causes of injury were recorded, the most frequent causes of injury (for all raptor species combined) were poisoning (23%, n = 59), followed by motor vehicle collisions (17%, n = 43), falls from nests (10%, n = 25), and collisions with fences (8%, n = 20). For the 516 individuals for which the outcome was known, the most common outcome was ‘release’ (37%, n = 193). Our results highlight the impact of poisoning on raptors and underpin the need for increased public education about the ecological and cultural importance of raptors, and the threats that raptors face.

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