Only for the glory, recognition, big bucks, becoming world renowned, receiving international awards, and having a tombstone inscribed with “Here lies the greatest conservationist of the century.” None of our wildlife heroes began with or live this mindset. For all of them, it is the gift of a life saved and bonding to that living creature through the process that keeps them going.
Ten years ago, Shannon changed our hearts leading us down the path to Nikela and the adventures of helping people saving wildlife. She wows the public with the wonder of her rescued birds of prey, converting many to the need for change. The trust comes from her passion for raptors, dedication amidst huge obstacles, fulfilling the needs of her sanctuary and ambassador birds 24/7 for the past 20 plus years, and her inspirational daily flight shows.
The gift of a life saved, so many lives.
Not only does she capture the attention of many through education, she is heavily involved in the actual recovery of the critically endangered Bearded Vulture (Lammergeier) in the Drakensberg Mountains of South Africa. Because of her ‘Bred 4 the Wild’ project, a magnificent raptor now has a chance.
The gift of a life saved, a species saved.
Imagine accessing nests in the highest snowy mountain cliffs towards the end of winter to harvest one of two eggs before they hatch one killing the other. Then somehow keeping it warm and safe until it reaches the far away incubation unit. Finally, tenderly rearing the chicks with minimal human contact learning their needs and responding to their threats.
Because of the narrow harvest window in August and fewer breeding nests with the fragile birds themselves, only a few chicks survive to enter the program each year. This was a good year. Eight nests were accessed, harvesting six eggs, of which only four proved fertile. One chick hatched with a gammy leg and later died, but the other three chicks are growing well.
Even though they are dealing with an isolated and dwindling population of a critically endangered species, Shannon is cautiously optimistic. With eight birds now in the captive group they are about a third of the way to achieving the necessary breeding group of 20 to 30 birds.
With much patience, continued hard work and the help from many including on high, this dwindling breed of magnificent birds will thrive again.
The gift of a life saved, so many lives, a species saved.
Thanks Shannon, Dr Sonja Krüger, the Vulture Conservation Foundation, and all the volunteers and supporters of this heroic effort.
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