Red-billed oxpeckers released in Mokala
After disappearing from the area for over half a century, the red-billed oxpecker has been introduced into Mokala National Park
Mokala National Park is "Where Endangered Species Roam...", according to the SANParks website. It is therefore fitting that the red-billed oxpecker, Buphagus erythrorhynchus, has been reintroduced into an area where it was once naturally abundant. Although not currently endangered, numbers have declined in areas where farmers use toxic pesticides. Due to the use of cattle treatments and dips, red-billed oxpeckers disappeared altogether in the greater Kimberley area about 60 years ago.
Because of the importance of the reintroduction, other conservation bodies became involved and were pivotal in the process. The capture of the 21 red-billed oxpeckers was carried out in Limpopo by the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT). Thereafter, the non-profit voluntary organisation Bateleurs transported them to Mokala, where they were released into a cage at Stofdam on 22 September 2012.
The red-billed oxpeckers were released from the cage a few days later, on 30 September 2012, once they had adjusted to the new environment. The birds have already been spotted on kudu and warthog in the park, a sure sign they have successfully settled into their new home.
As their main food source is ticks, red-billed oxpeckers clean the wounds of other animals. They also remove rotting flesh, harmful insects and control the populations of external parasites.
Deon Joubert, Mokala Park Manager, explained that the red-billed oxpeckers are beneficial to livestock and “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.”
If you are planning a visit to Mokala, which is only 80km from Kimberley, put the red-billed oxpecker on your check list. Report any sighting you see and help SANParks in the monitoring of these birds.
© Images by Eric Reisinger
Posted on: October 11, 2012, 1:09 PM
Posted on: October 15, 2012, 1:47 PM