Winterkloof & World’s View Winter News

Thanks to Penny Wheeler for alerting us to the buck meat “walking” up Valley Road into Dalry and then Crompton Road.  She took this picture, while waiting for help to arrive, but could not detain the two men walking the venison. 

Sadly, Daryn Hiltunen, the eZemvelo District Control Officer was unable to get to Winterskloof in time to catch the people who were moving the remains of buck from the capture sight into Sweetwaters.  Daryn went to the Hilton SAPS and was told there were no vans to accompany him (strangely while he was waiting for one to return, a SAPS vehicle drove out the Police Station!).  Daryn then found the Red Bobbies in St. Michaels Road and drove around trying to find the two men.  He was unsuccessful.

It is a criminal offence to be in possession of any wildlife (alive or dead) without a permit.  Please advise your family, staff and contractors about this. In future, please contact Daryn (SMS him with the details if he cannot take your call).  The Red Bobbies have also received training on the legislation so should also be called, via the Red Alert Control Room number. Daryn Hiltunen: 084 617 7507 Red Alert Control Room: 0861 033 147 SAPS: 10111  SAPS Hilton Charge Office: (033) 845 652

Comment from Hugh Temple (World’s View Conservancy):

These may be the dog hunters were seen (and pursued by Daryn Hiltunen and myself) in the plantations and up as far as Worlds View houses recently?  The meat looks like that from a bushbuck.  We need to up our game quite a bit if we want to prevent this happening.  If we don’t, soon the larger mammals in our conservancy will have all disappeared.   I am busy ordering four conservancy patrol car door magnetic signs.  I will modify one pair to fit a non-magnetic door and they will be made available for use by members who are prepared to spend some time patrolling the conservancy looking for illegal activity, such as poaching.  If anyone wants to volunteer for this, send me your details, and we can draw up a roster and arrange an orientation visit.  We are not looking for confrontation, but simply observation and deterrence.  Any direct approach to poachers, who are likely to be armed with some form of weapon, should be made only by EKZN Wildlife and/or the SAPS, who should be contacted on the numbers below if anything is seen.  I would be grateful if I could be contacted as well on 033 3431286 or 0828210048.  Anyone walking or cycling in the Conservancy should always carry a cellphone for communication in an emergency.

Happier News:

In World’s View, Nicki and Andrew Taylor report having found a Spotted Eagle Owl nest in the crags area (the rocky area facing town).  Nicki also reports a recent incident of a Spotted Eagle Owl having a go at one of her chickens, before realising it was too large to carry off.  This happened at about 4 in the afternoon.  So they are about, thank goodness. 

Most residents of Winterskloof will be aware of the young eagles that are screeching for food from their (exhausted??) parents – we are truly privileged to have both the Crowned Eagle and Long Crested Eagle chicks growing up in our Valley.  Shane McPherson has just ringed the Crowned Eagle chick (see photo below, Shane is the bald one), which will help to understand where they go when they leave the nest.  The other photo shows the chick after the protective blindfold was removed and it was released.  A blood sample was taken and the DNA test will reveal if he is a she or not!

Shane met a startled Winterskloofer who came upon the ringing crew in progress.  Shane responded:

I am doing a research project on these eagles – and this is intended to continue for the next 2 years at least.  I hope to research some important aspects of their biology including the diet, as well as the breeding success. My study mainly focuses on urban birds in the Durban Metro area, but all other outlying pairs will be monitored on an ongoing basis.  The wildlife conflict issue that arise are an important aspect of the study. I am sure you are aware that this young eagle, and many others born in residential areas, begin their life in close association with people who enjoy having the eagles close.  They may become very habituated and trusting of people – and this may cause them trouble when they move away from their parents home range.  Not all people are as thrilled to have these eagles close by, particularly rural people with chickens and goats.   So I hope that you enjoy having the eagles around, though implore you to not encourage it to stay by, for instance, providing food for it.  I am sorry if I have presumed that you are unaware of this effect.  Though I have heard of several instances where the young bird being fed has resulted in it being killed by a neighbour.  Indeed the previous youngster from this Winterskloof nest was shot with a pellet gun – it was widely publicized but the culprit was never identified.

It will be important to know when this young bird starts to become independent, and moves from the area – when this happens the adult birds will be ready to breed again.  The project would benefit greatly from your input – and if it is not too much trouble – I would be thrilled if you were able to note the birds presence and most importantly, its conspicuous absence.

His contact details are 078 638 6867 shane.mcpherson@gmail.com http://kzn-ce.blogspot.com/   If you would like to contact him to provide information or learn more about the eagles in our Valley.

Please share with family, friends and neighbours so we can raise awareness of the plight of these magnificent creatures.  Please also remember not to get close to wildlife or to feed them in any way.  Let them be wild and free and not made dependent.  It is the only way they can be safe and grow up to breed, so that our grandchildren can also live to see them in the wild.

Please Note:   This request also applies to the monkeys and other wild creatures in our Valley – we know of a man who thinks it is ok to throw a bag of bread (not feed them apparently!) at the monkeys in Cuckoo Lane as he drives past, which is why they are now raiding our kitchens for bread!!  We also know of a child who used the paintball gun bought by his parents to shoot monkeys, to shoot at someone walking past in the road.  Surely we can live and let live?  We are privileged to share our very special enclave with wildlife, which made space for us to make our homes, so let us all try to live in harmony and teach our children to respect precious life.

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