Judy with an egret chick
Written by Vanessa Davis, Public Relations Officer, SAWRC
South Africa is known the world over for its wonderful wildlife. Sadly, these animals are under mounting threat, and the need for wildlife rescue facilities is increasing. Enter the South African Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (SAWRC) in Vischkuil, Springs, which treats thousands of creatures, great and small, every year.
Expert help for animals in need
The centre is located on a 17-ha smallholding outside the town of Springs and is bordered by open land and marsh.
Founder and CEO Judy Davidson has been dedicated to saving and rehabilitating wildlife since approximately 1980. She’s completed multiple courses, both local and international, and excelled in them all. There are also a number of highly skilled and specialised volunteers who assist with cases, and several of SA’s top vets, who are absolutely incredible, assist when the need arises.
As the laws and regulations pertaining to our indigenous wildlife have evolved throughout the years, Judy has obtained all the necessary permits and remained compliant to work with the vast array of wildlife species which grace our magnificent country. Included in our required permits are specialised permits allowing SAWRC to work with Threatened or Protected Species (ToPS), as we assist many critically endangered animals annually.
Thousands helped each year
Over the course of a year, our centre treats, on average, 6,000 cases, and sees all sorts of birds, reptiles, and mammals.
Animals are admitted for various reasons, some of which include injuries to our wildlife (both purposeful or accidental), traffic collisions, poisoning, sickness, human-animal conflict, or orphaned young that need rearing. We also take in cases that are confiscated by the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) and ensure the safekeeping of the animal until a resolution is reached.
Each wild animal in our care is, whenever possible, released back into a safe environment when the rehabilitation process is completed. Approximately 90% of our cases are released with support, using a system we refer to as a “soft release” whereby food and shelter are provided for many weeks (sometimes months, depending on species) following their release. This system gives them the best possible chance to adapt to their freedom and learn without the risk of the animal battling to find food.
SAWRC is proud to have been involved in many interesting rescue cases. We’re fortunate enough to have worked with a few Leopards, many Servals, Caracals and Spotted Genets. We’ve also worked with multiple raptors, primates, water birds, garden birds, reptiles, and an array of mammals as we take in cases from all over South Africa.
Wildlife in danger
The need to provide a dedicated wildlife rehabilitation centre grows yearly as more and more natural habitat is taken over by humankind and the illegal wildlife trade grows. Destruction of safe areas force human-animal conflicts, as wildlife find themselves contending for space and trying to find food.
Some animals have adapted well to what humans inadvertently provide (for instance, the proliferation of rats and mice that owls feast on). Others, such as our smaller mammals, for instance Servals, Caracals, Black-backed Jackals, Spotted Genets and Mongooses, are persecuted, as they conflict with farmers (from chicken farmers, sheep farmers and even cattle farmers, the conflict of food for the predator versus livelihood for the farmer). Little mammals like the Rock Hyrax (“dassies”) are also chased and poisoned as they’ve found the delicious foods provided in beautiful manicured gardens. We endeavour to find a solution that will save our affected indigenous species.
Our number of cases admitted tends to grow each year. We constantly strive towards building bigger and better enclosures, adding more each year to handle the growing demand.
You can help!
SAWRC is in no way funded or helped by the state to look after South Africa’s natural wildlife heritage. It’s only up to us – and you – to make a difference! We rely solely on the generosity of the public to enable us to do what we do.
We’re constantly in need of various things to keep the centre running, the animals healthy and happy, and heal those in our care.
Building materials and hardware
To provide the very best, safest environment for the animals we help, we’re always repairing, rebuilding, expanding and improving. This escalates our need for all manner of building materials, so we’re constantly in need of:
- Shade net (from 20% through to 90%)
- Wire mesh
- Cable ties (of all sizes)
- Gum poles
- Wooden crates/boxes
- Sand, stone, bricks and cement
We also provide means of mental simulation, trying to mimic as closely as possible materials and structures our wildlife will naturally seek out.
Meals of only the best quality are provided, ensuring optimal health and weight upon release. We use large quantities of:
- Dog food/pellets
- Chicken breasts
- Cat food (both pellets and tin food)
- All fruits and vegetables
Animal customised items, including:
- Kitty milk formula
- Good-quality Calcium power
- Tins of A/D restorative care by Hill’s (obtainable at veterinary practices)
- AVI-Plus hand-rearing formula
- GI High Energy Liquid by Royal Canin
Medical supplies, including:
- Cotton wool
- Silbecor ointment
- Liquid eye drops
- Colloidal Silver
Bits and pieces
- Soft baby blankets
- Soft canvas pet carriers (carriers by Cosmic Pets are a firm favourite)
- Travel boxes/crates
- Wet Wipes
Of course, funding is always critical, as we also need to pay for:
- Electricity, which keeps our wildlife warm and snug
- Staff wages (we only have three permanent staff)
- Our rates and tax on the property
- Cell phone calls/data
- Vet bills
- Car repair costs
- Cleaning materials
Any help with the above may be made directly into our account:
South African Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
FNB: 62 75 926 5434
Springs Mall Branch; 250 655
SWIFT Code: FIRNZAJJ
Wildlife/donations/goods may be dropped off at:
63 First Street