Don’t feed wildlife, says SANParks
SANParks scientists and civil society research groups have cautioned against feeding wild animals. This comes after volunteer groups had dropped vegetables and seeds for animals to eat in the national park and surrounds. This week, authorities detailed reasons for discouraging the feeding of animals in burnt areas.
According to Garden Route National Park manager Paddy Gordon, the fire scar thus far illustrates an elongated line, which suggests animals could have moved to either side of the fire.
“Feeding wild animals may lead to an increase in animal conflict with one another. Once all the feeding programmes and volunteers withdraw relief effort, animals will keep coming to usual spots to collect food, which could lead to a conflict with other wild animals, domestic pets and also with humans,” Gordon said.
Further points he highlighted were as follows: Feeding habituates animals to humans. Spreading fodder over burnt areas might lead animals to eat both fodder and any new growth of plants or shoots. This might delay the growth of plants in those areas.
As feeding animals can also have an influence on breeding patterns in some animal species, should the feeding suddenly stop, animals will be severely affected.
Gordon said SANParks staff are part of the “ground-truthing exercise” with other stakeholders to determine further assessment after the fire. Once this is completed, certain areas will be identified for rehabilitation but other areas will regrow.
* Residents who spot injured animals as a result of the recent fires can contact the Knysna Animal Welfare Society on 044384-1603 during office hours or, in case of an emergency after hours, phone 073-4619825.