Over 1000 Amur Falcons were injured during a hail storm in Mooi River over the past weekend and the FreeMe Wildlife Rehabilitation have been caring for them
KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa – On the 9th of March, the FreeMe Wildlife Rehabilitation centre called in all their volunteers and went on standby after a massive hailstorm blew through the Mooi River area. The area is the roosting site for thousands of Amur Falcons.
The hailstorm injured over a thousand of the Falcons and killed hundreds too. The rehabilitation centre started gearing up for an influx of many injured birds. The hail knocked many of the small falcons from their perches and left them unable to move, stuck on the soaking wet ground.
Nsele Emergency Services found the birds and notified the organisation and the Mooi River & District SPCA. The birds were all collected and taken to the rehab for treatment.
Thus, the first long night started with the team assessing and warming over 1000 Amur Falcons. The next morning, the team could see that most of the birds were fine once they had dried off and warmed up. Each bird was looked over and offered the required treatment. While they were working on the birds, teams were out in Mooi River collecting more of the injured birds.
A few Red-Footed Falcons were also amongst the injured as they roost with Amur Falcons. The birds that were unharmed were then placed in the flight aviary to be released a few days later.
A total of 1090 birds were treated by the FreeMe team. They are working hard to get the birds rehabilitated in time for their annual migration. 70 are still in the clinic receiving treatment and 6 are in need of surgery. By this point, the team had worked non-stop for 18-hours.
By the 11th of March, the first 400 Falcons were ringed and released back into the wild. The next day they did the same with another 530 Falcons. With the migration just two weeks away, they had to make sure that the birds are well enough to take the long flight to Amur River in the China/Russia region.
The majority of the Falcons have now been released back into the wild. The few that suffered broken bones will be kept at FreeMe over winter and released in November once they have fully recovered.
The entire ordeal has shown FreeMe just how supportive the community is. They have had messages of support and many donating towards helping pay for all the costs involved during this emergency.
“Our whole aim at FREEME KZN Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is to give them a chance at a life back in the wild. We are a rehabilitation centre, not a captive facility. Our belief is first and foremost in the inherent rights of wild animals to be wild. We love seeing animals under our care returned to where they belong, and our deepest sadness is always when we cannot see that process through.
Thank you to EVERYONE for your care and support through this Amur Falcon rescue, March 2019″ – the FREEME KZN team
If you would like to assist FreeMe, you can join their Custodianship Programme here.
You can watch one of the releases below.