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Avian Rehabilitation

( Article Type: Explanation )

Avian rehabilitation describes the work that is undertaken – mostly by NGOs – to take injured, polluted or distressed birds, nurse them back to health and release them back into the wild.

A high profile example of this work is the 20 000 African penguins – some 50% of the already endangered South African population – that were threatened by oil pollution from the sunken iron ore carrier, Treasure. While the oil-soaked birds were cleaned up, the other birds were airlifted from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth to temporarily remove them from the threat of oil contamination. The cleaning of each oil-soaked penguin cost R2000 and the costs of cleaning the birds and the coastline exceeded R40 million. Most of the cleanup work on the penguins was carried out by volunteers.

There are also focused groups who cater for the rehabilitation of specific bird species, e.g. vultures, other raptors and blue cranes. A key aspect of avian rehabilitation is to rehabilitate the birds in such a manner that they can be returned to the wild. In this way, the rehabilitation can contribute to the protection and sustainability of the species.