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After a frantic search this morning, National Museum scientists have recovered Casanovia the secretary bird and took him to a rescue centre for rehabilitation.

Aphiwe Kozana assisted in the rescue of Casanovia

Late yesterday, the Museum was contacted by Dr Melissa Howes- Whitecross of Birdlife SA to inform us that that the data received from the tracker that was installed on Casanovia indicated that he had not moved for a while. It appeared that he was either stuck on a fence or had passed on.

Dawie de Swardt and Aphiwe Kozana from the Museum, set off at the crack of dawn to locate the bird using the tracker coordinates provided by BirdLife SA. They were expecting to retrieve the tracker and a dead carcass but to their surprise, they found that Casanovia was still alive. They rushed him to a rescue centre for rehabilitation. The Museum is hoping that they got there in time and will survive his ordeal.

Dawie de Swardt and Lots Morapedi safely removed Casanovia from his nest to be ringed and fitted with a tracker

Casonovia was tagged as part of the Landscape Conservation Programme project which seeks to map Secretarybird movements in South Africa to determine the effects of different vegetation variables, rainfall and fence lines on their movements. Dawie assisted with the tagging of Casanovia for the project.

In late 2019 Dawie located a breeding pair of Secretarybirds in the Bloemfontein area. This was a heartening find as Secretarybirds’ Red Data status in South Africa is currently ‘Near Threatened’. BirdLife SA is involved in an ongoing project to monitor breeding and movement of this species and were therefore notified. Part of this project involves fitting transmitters to nestlings at approximately seven weeks of age. The Secretarybird was Birdlife South Africa’s Bird of the Year for 2019.

In January 2020 Dawie and his preparator, Lots Morapedi, accompanied by Melissa Howes-Whitecross (BirdLife South Africa) and Caroline and Patrick Byholm (Finnish Raptor biologists of Nova University of Applied Sciences, Finland) ringed and fitted the  transmitter on Casanovia. Casanovia was a nestling at the time between 7- 8 weeks old. His nest was located about 3.5 meters high in a Buffalo Thorn tree and had to be accessed with the use of a long ladder.

Tracker data received from BirdLife SA showing Casanovia in distress

If you know of any active Secretarybird nests across South Africa please email melissa.whitecross@birdlife.org.za as soon as possible. Media can contact the Museum for more information on direk@nasmus.co.za

Nasmus
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