Eagle encounters is a non-profit wildlife rehabilitation, conservation, education and eco-tourism centre based at the beautiful Spier Wine Farm in the Somerset West area of Cape Town. Myself and fellow Miss Earth SA Finalist, Denicke Cronje, had the opportunity of visiting this special place during our Miss Earth Journey.
On arrival we were met by the very passionate Chantal Jooste, who is a new Bird Handler at the centre. I met Chantal a few years ago as our paths crossed a few times in the conservation world and I knew she had started working at Eagle Encounters. It is great to be able to make partnerships such as this one and create awareness for conservation initiatives that are doing great work out there that sometimes people are not even aware of their existence.
We sat in on the flying show conducted by another one of the handlers and learnt about yellow-billed kites, Jackal Buzzards, rock kestrels and a Peregrine Falcon. These raptors have incredible eye sight and can see a small size prey such as a mouse from 4km away! He also introduced us to 3 Cape Vultures, having a threatened status on the IUCN Red List. All of the animals and birds that call Eagle Encounters their home have either been rescued from abuse, abandoned or are unwanted from owners. They are given a second chance and get to live out the rest of their lives at the comfort of their new homes. We also met Mary-Anne the Secretary bird as well as a baby blue crane and had loads of fun with all the different owls you can interact with. We were fortunate to be able to hold a yellow-billed kite as well as the Spotted Eagle owls which for me was an indescribable experience and one I will carry with me for the rest of my life. The centre even has their own collection of snakes which were brought to the centre by people not wanting them anymore or exotic snakes that might have been confiscated from illegal pet traders trying to sell them in South Africa. Denicke and I even held Charlie the Boa Constrictor who was only more than happy to ‘cuddle’ with us. Having this kind of exposure to wild animals is soothing for the soul and therapeutic for a bush baby like myself. We had the rare opportunity of handling the animals and getting that one on one interaction which was absolutely incredible.
Visiting Eagle Encounters was definitely a highlight for me and I would highly recommend it to everyone and anyone. I am so grateful for the Miss Earth South Africa programme which allows us to visit special places such as this and create awareness for conservation initiatives such as Eagle Encounters.
Eagle Encounters is a bird of prey rescue and awareness centre which is a non-profit and self-funded organization that receives no government funding for their conservation and outreach work. They depend on donations and public support for their survival. There are also many ways in which you can get involved whether you want to donate money or come and volunteer at the centre over a weekend. Visit their website or Facebook page to find out more.