As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Red-billed oxpeckers released into South Africa's Mokala National Park

Birds will help protect wild and domestic animals from pests

October 2012. 21 red-billed oxpeckers have been released into South Africa's Mokala National Park. The birds were captured in Limpopo by The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and released into a cage at Stofdam in the park, close to the bird hide. After they were acclimatised to their new surroundings, they were released from the cage on 30 September 2012. They were seen shortly afterwards on Kudu and Warthogs.

Disappeared due to livestock medication
The Red-billed oxpecker was prevalent in the greater Kimberley area about 60 years ago, but due to the use of dips and treatments for overseas cattle breeds, they disappeared from the region. According to Deon Joubert, manager of Mokala National Park, the birds have been re-introduced into the area because they once occurred there naturally, they are beneficial to mammals (livestock and game) as they help keep ticks and external parasite populations on the animals under control. Their main food source is ticks, including the larva and the adult.

Joubert said "they will contribute to protecting the disease free buffalo in Mokala National Park from sickness, reduce the external parasite numbers on animals in neighbouring farms and help get the biodiversity back to the way it was before."

Visitors are encouraged to help with the monitoring of the birds by reporting sightings at Mokala National Park's reception.

The operation was undertaken by South African National Parks (SANParks) and The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)

Red-billed oxpeckers also keep animals' wounds clean and remove rotting flesh and insects from the wounds

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