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Nature reserve aids eagle Jenny’s recovery

Jenny, a tawny eagle that narrowly escaped death, has been released into the wild after rehabilitation at a nature reserve run by De Beers Group in South Africa.

Managers in the De Beers Ecology division and staff at the Dronfield Nature Reserve offered the use of the reserve after hearing what happened to the bird.

A farmer in the Karoo, a semi-desert region, spotted Jenny, a fledgling, lying unconscious on the ground after colliding with a powerline while escaping from two pied crows.

Vets in Kimberley found she had no fractures or serious internal injuries so the rehabilitation began, using age-old falconry techniques under the guiding hand of Julius Koen, a falconer with 40 years’ experience.

The training involved taming her and then flying her free as often as possible for more than a year to get her fit and to introduce her to potential prey species.  

Julius said: “I knew that it was going to be a long process as young eagles have a long depen­dency period on their parents. In captivity it takes even longer as the bird must be tamed and then slowly introduced to the wild.

“Dronfield was especially suitable as tawny eagles have been seen there in the past but presently there is no resident pair that would drive the youngster away.”

The reserve has a ‘vulture restaurant’ where food is regularly supplied to the local vulture population. Tawny eagles also scavenge for food, and nomadic eagles have been seen at the restaurant in the past. The ‘restaurant’ would be a supplementary food source for Jenny.

After 15 months, she was ringed and released. She will be observed as often as possible to ensure that she remains capable of feeding herself.

Warwick Mostert, Principal Biodiversity, said: “We are thrilled to see how Jenny has overcome her near tragedy, and we are glad that the Dronfield Nature Reserve has been able to help in the bird’s rehabilitation period.”

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