South African Birds of Prey

According to my smart phone, today is Thursday, January 11, 2018

We’re sailing to Durban today, will dock tomorrow morning. The day is warm and sunny, also windy. We tried to walk on the Promenade Deck, but were blown so hard that it was difficult to remain standing. At one point, I was running, not intentionally. Yikes!

Friday, January 12

The countryside around Durban is beautiful, lush and green, as we could see when we drove through the farmland and mountains of the area. Sugar is big business here. The government has discouraged the automation of sugar harvesting, wanting to keep more jobs for the residents. On the other hand, the government decided last year to import chicken from South America, thus putting many local chicken farms out of business. I have to wonder if bribery was involved in the decision to import chicken.

The city of Durban was established in 1824, and was named for Sir Benjamin d’Urban, the governor of Cape Town at the time. It has the busiest harbor in South Africa, mostly because of its proximity to Johannesburg. We saw some wildlife on the drive, including kudu, wildebeest and zebra. By the way, while we from the US pronounce zebra with a long “e,” the South Africans pronounce it with a short “e.” Sounds like Debra with a “z.” I guess that must be correct since the debras, I mean zebras, are native to this country, so the South Africans named them.

We visited the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary, a few miles outside of Durban. The sanctuary opened in June, 2006, and cares for over 150 birds of prey. South Africa has 81 species of raptor, and about 1/4 of them are threatened or endangered.

Some of the birds rescued by the sanctuary can be released to the wild once they are healthy, but many cannot, perhaps their injuries have not healed properly, perhaps they have been kept as pets and thus think that humans are their family. Some of the birds that live here permanently are used for education purposes. There are 36 enclosures, containing one or another type of bird, such as vultures, buzzards, eagles, hawks, falcons, owls and kites.

We were treated to a short demonstration and education about five different birds: long-crested eagle; spotted eagle owl; yellow-billed kite; wood owl; and peregrine falcon. We learned that: eagles are the only raptors that have feathers on their legs; owls have 14 neck vertebrae (humans have only seven;) the peregrine falcon has been recorded at 242 miles per hour, the fastest creature on earth (take that, cheetah!)

Belinda demonstrated a feeding session with four Cape Vultures. She gave them ten pounds of horse meat, which lasted about 60 seconds. The vultures squabble with each other to get a good position, and also work together to tear the meat apart. Noisy and smelly!

After the tour, we visited Ushaka Beach and walked along the promenade. It was so windy we almost lost our hats. In spite of the high waves, the beach was full of people enjoying the sun. Some folks even waded into the water, it would have taken some strength to try to swim. I had expected to see some surfing, but the sea was too turbulent for that.

We enjoyed a show tonight by a local group called Thee Legacy, five young men who danced and sang. The group was formed in 2009 and it won The Sing Off South Africa 2015. Two of the members are related to members of the group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. If you are a fan of Paul Simon’s work, you may remember that he performed with Ladysmith Black Mambazo on his Graceland album. In fact, Thee Legacy performed one of the songs that was on that album: “She’s Got Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes.”

Thee Legacy’s singing style is termed Isicathamiya (or a cappella,) which originated with the South African Zulus. Towards the end of the show they looked for volunteers to come up on stage – they volunteered Mark, and I thought he did very well following their moves, which were quite energetic.


Mark with his dance mates, Thee Legacy.




About kcbernick

I love to travel.
This entry was posted in Africa, Crystal Cruises, Durban, Isicathamiya, Raptors, South Africa. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s