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A survey of wildlife rehabilitation in South Africa: is there a need for improved management?

By K. Wimberger, C. T. Downs, R. S. Boyes

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The focus of wildlife rehabilitation is the survival of the individual animal, often leading to rehabilitators being in conflict with government wildlife officials, who regulate the industry and whose focus is on the security of entire wildlife communities. In South Africa, wildlife rehabilitation has been the focus of recent attention from the general public, government and academics, due mostly to the development and adoption of norms and standards for the management of primates. Our study was initiated to provide the first survey of rehabilitation centres in South Africa. Questionnaires were returned by 65% known rehabilitation centres in South Africa, including all nine Provinces, through which several thousand injured, diseased and orphaned animals pass each year. It is clear there is a need for rehabilitation centres in South Africa. However, due to a lack of scientific research on the efficacy of rehabilitation methods for care and release, and minimal post-release monitoring, wildlife rehabilitation techniques and protocols have been based on work experience and subjective intuition. In conjunction with a lack of funds, there may be negative impacts on individual animal welfare and survival, as well as on conservation efforts for wildlife communities. Similar issues have been documented in other regions of the world. In the authors' opinion, centralisation of wildlife rehabilitation to national or provincial government is a necessity. Furthermore, it is suggested that guidelines of minimum standards should be developed in consultation with experienced rehabilitators, veterinarians and conservation scientists; to be enforced by trained and dedicated conservation officials.

Date 2010
Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 19
Issue 4
Pages 481-499
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Language English
Author Address School of Biological and Conservation Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, P/Bag X01, Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg 3209, South Africa.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Africa
  2. Animal rights
  3. Animal roles
  4. Animals in culture
  5. Animal welfare
  6. Biological resources
  7. Commonwealth of Nations
  8. Communities
  9. Conservation
  10. Developed countries
  11. Guidelines
  12. Mammals
  13. Methodologies
  14. monitoring
  15. Primates
  16. Questionnaires
  17. recommendations
  18. Research
  19. South Africa
  20. standards
  21. Studies
  22. surveillance
  23. surveys
  24. survival
  25. Techniques
  26. Threshold Countries
  27. Veterinarians
  28. Veterinary surgery
  29. Wild animals
  30. wildlife
  31. Zoology