Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds

White breasted cormorant flies free after plastic ingestion

With the collaborated efforts with the SPCA Wildlife Unit in Grassy Park, a White breasted cormorant has returned to the wild. The SPCA Wildlife Unit provided the initial care and stabilisation of the bird when admitted to their facility on Tuesday, 19 November 2019.

On admission, the bird had a fish lodged in its throat but this was not an ordinary case or easy-to-fix situation. The fish was wrapped in fishing gut and the bird was suffering from it.

The SPCA performed a surgical procedure to carefully remove the fish and fishing gut and the team was successful in their operation. After surgically removing these, the bird was transferred to SANCCOB for rehabilitation.

It is all too often that our seabirds are affected by single-use plastics and need to be admitted for specialised veterinary and rehabilitation procedures at the SANCCOB seabird hospital. The careless disposal of plastics can result in ingestion by seabirds and marine wildlife or result in entanglement causing great amounts of distress; sadly, this may also lead to a fatal end.

The number of seabirds admitted to SANCCOB with debris related injuries has fluctuated between 2008 and 2012. However, since 2013 numbers have increased year on year; 2018 reflected the highest number with 46 seabirds affected this way. This tells us that 21% of the overall number of seabirds admitted to SANCCOB, suffered with debris related injuries for the 10 year period. We encourage you, we implore you: Please reduce, reuse and recycle for the sake of our marine wildlife.

We are happy to share that the White breasted cormorant made a full recovery and has been released back into the wild at the Table Bay Nature Reserve. This feisty cormorant was one of the lucky few that managed to pull through, and with the care and collaboration of both the SPCA wildlife unit and SANCCOB, this beautiful bird was able to fly out again.

December 9, 2019

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