A challenging 2020 ended on a good note for Scottburgh’s Crocworld Conservation Centre when – for the first time in the centre’s history – two baby Marabou Storks successfully hatched as part of an ongoing breeding programme.
“There was a lot of excitement from our team when the chicks hatched,” said Ryne Ferguson, Crocworld Conservation Centre Bird Curator. “We had a very trying breeding season with lockdown and monkeys stealing eggs. It’s fantastic that our pair was finally able to hatch two healthy chicks.”
The KZN South Coast-based conservation centre received Norris, the stork father, and another male, Stallone, from the African Bird of Prey Centre in Pietermaritzburg in 2015. The following year, Samara, the mother of the chicks, arrived from Umgeni River Bird Park to join Norris with the hope of the pair eventually breeding. After some unsuccessful attempts, the pair was finally rewarded with two chicks in December 2020.
“We made the decision to remove the younger, smaller of the two chicks from the nest as the chick was not getting enough food and was being pushed around by its sibling,” said Ryne, who explained that this was not unusual behaviour in the wild. “The chick was removed for its survival, and is now being hand reared and progressing well.”
Fast facts about Marabou Storks
• Marabou storks are the largest flighted birds in Africa with an almost 3m wingspan.
• Marabou storks regulate their body temperature by inflating their throat pouch with air, allowing the wind to blow past and cool the blood vessels, which then circulates cool blood around the body.
• Marabou storks are found on the northern tip of South Africa, from the KZN North Coast through to Limpopo, and the border of the North West.
• Like vulture species, Marabou storks are scavengers and are being poisoned by humans attempting to get rid of larger predators. They are also killed when flying into power lines.
• The protection of Marabou storks is important which is why breeding programmes, such as these, are vital to the continuation of the species.
Visitors are welcome to check out the latest additions to the Crocworld Conservation Centre aviary, which also includes a number of residents that have moved to the new enclosures – Booted Eagles, Eurasian Eagle Owls, Harris Hawk and Jackal Buzzards – in the new Raptor Wing. This extends the centre’s existing aviary, which was recently upgraded, housing numerous local and exotic bird species.
Other new features to enjoy at Crocworld Conservation Centre
• Another new resident at the centre is ‘Laggie’, a beautiful, female, white-throated monitor lizard, who’s looking forward to meeting new visitors.
• The popular Whale Watching Walkway has been revamped, giving visitors the chance to spot some of these migrating mammals as well as the ever-playful dolphins.
• Crocworld is collaborating with Crystal Divers, which gives visitors the chance to get details and make bookings for any of the Crystal Dive activities on offer. These include boat rides, snorkelling with sharks, rockpool snorkelling, scuba diving and PADI courses.
• Fish Eagle Café, located at Crocworld Conservation Centre, has recently launched its delectable Gourmet Burger Menu, in addition to its existing mouth-watering meal options. Hungry patrons can enjoy one of seven exquisite burger choices while taking in the sea view from the newly-built wraparound deck.
All Covid-19 protocols are in place at Crocworld and visitors are urged to wear masks, sanitise and follow family group social distancing regulations. In line with regulations, the centre and café are open from 9am to 4.30pm.
To find out more about the new happenings at Crocworld Conservation Centre, visit www.crocworld.co.za or ‘Crocworld Conservation Centre’ on Facebook. Alternatively, contact Crocworld Conservation Centre on 039 976 1103. To find out more about Fish Eagle Café, call 083 658 7073 or email [email protected].