Close Encounters

There are several arguments for and against keeping animals in captivity, and this includes wildlife rehabilitation centres.  It’s not something I want to debate here because that’s not what this blog is about.  It’s about living on the tip of Africa, one of the most spectacular places on the planet, and being touched by abundant and diverse wildlife.

Spier wine farm on the outskirts of Stellenbosch is one of many to have embraced wildlife rehabilitation and incorporated it into the farms over the years, from their cheetah outreach programme to the newer Eagle Encounters raptor rehabilitation and education centre, where you can get up close and personal with a number of wildlife species and birds of prey in particular.

The (amateur) photographer in me will argue that being able to shoot semi-tame wildlife so close up isn’t a challenge and there is a lot of truth in that.  Canadian wildlife photographer and blogger Lyle Krahn recently likened it to shooting fish in a barrel and he’s right, but what I will say is that nothing can take away the thrill I felt interacting with a Bengal Eagle Owl and Wahlberg’s Eagle.  But I left the boa constrictor to my son 🙂

03-IMG_0681 07-IMG_0699 10-IMG_0707

14-IMG_0741 19-IMG_0761 36-IMG_0822In one of the demonstrations visitors see a plastic snake with food attached being used to encourage a hand reared Secretary Bird to fend for itself while a greedy blue crane, endemic to the Cape Overberg farmlands, vies for attention.



6 thoughts on “Close Encounters

  1. Excellent photos Karen. Love the secretary bird 🙂
    I remember my husband’s uncle having blue cranes on his farm in the Eastern Cape. Lovely birds. I wasn’t as keen on the attacking geese though!


    1. Thanks Jude. This poor Secretary Bird was raised by a farmer on cat food before it came to the centre (can you cope?), resulting in a calcium deficiency and consequently a broken leg. She’s recovered well and can kick and stun prey with both legs which is part of her rehabilitation. As for the Blue Crane, it’s a complete lush puppy. Quite a character. It’s the first time I have been really close to one – they are quite illusive in the Overberg farmlands and fly off as soon as you get anywhere near close to them.


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