How To Be a Wildlife Rescue Hero

by CapeNature

Often it is human nature to want to help stranded and injured Wildlife. What we do not realise is that we may be doing more harm than good.

It is always important, when you come across a stranded animal or wildlife that looks injured or abandoned, to first stand back and make sure that the situation is what you think it is. Sometimes young animals may be hidden in the bush whilst the mother goes out hunting. This may look like an abandoned baby that requires help but often it is normal behaviour.

It is also important to understand that wildlife animals are not familiar with being handled by humans, and trying to help can result in harm to yourself during the catching. Tenikwa Wildlife Rehabilitation and Awareness Centre spokesperson Amelia Havemann says always think of your safety first. “Keep dogs away from the wildlife as this will increase the stress level the animal is experiencing.”

While you are on holiday this summer you may encounter some common species. Do not despair, and remember to take your time assessing the situation.

If you find a penguin alone by itself on the beach, it does need to be taken into rehabilitation. Do not chase it back into the water. Try to locate where the penguin is on the beach and contact the nearest Nature Authorities like SA Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), or if no numbers are available, the local Sea Rescue. “If you do try to catch the penguin, use a towel to put over the penguin and watch out for its sharp beak and claws. Transport in a box to the nearest Nature Authority offices, the nearest Seabird Rehabilitation Centre or the nearest Vet Practice. Don’t try to feed it or give it water.” She says.

Havemann explains it is a little different with turtles. “If you find a turtle or turtle hatchling on the beach in the Western Cape, it does need assistance. Never put it back in the ocean. If it is small enough, place in a box with a towel on the bottom. It doesn’t need to be in water.” The public is urged to take it to the nearest Nature Authority offices, the nearest Seabird Rehabilitation Centre or the nearest Vet Practice. If it is a large turtle, it is best to contact the nearest Nature Authorities, or if no numbers are available, the local Sea Rescue. Don’t try to feed it or give it water.

Other mammals along your journey may need assistance but rather that of a professional. If you find a young black seal pup on the beach by itself and away from the colony, or a seal with obvious contact your nearest Nature authority for assistance. Seals can be very dangerous when approached, so be very careful about getting too close.

Should you find yourself wondering in the bush and meet a little baby duiker, you first need to assess whether to intervene. If it is lying quietly in a thicket by itself, this could be normal and the mother may have been chased away temporarily by your presence. Leave it alone and move on quickly. However, if it is wandering around by itself and bleating in distress and you are sure it is by itself, or you have seen the mother dead in a snare, then it needs assistance. She advises to “Gather it in your arms, and take it to the nearest Nature Authorities or local vet. Do not try to raise it yourself.”

In general, always think before you act. If you are not able to catch and transport the wildlife in safe and humane manner, then call on professionals. Never try to raise wildlife yourself. Always take it to the nearest Rehab Centre, the nearest Nature Authorities, like CapeNature or your local vet.

Visit Tenikwa Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre for more information on wildlife rescue and rehabilitation.

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