Brent and I had the privilege to be invited by Astral Foods, one of South Africa’s leading poultry producers, to celebrate their new partnership with World of Birds. We heard about the amazing work they have done thus far to assist World of Birds and their continued commitment to the sanctuary. It also gave us an opportunity to explore the bird park – which I have to confess was my first time. Apart from dropping my youngest daughter off outside of the sanctuary during her grade field trip – but I suppose that one time doesn’t count. I know I’m such a bad Capetonion. This gem with its tropical setting is the largest bird park in Africa and is situated in Hout Bay. After exploring the park; we had a scrumptious lunch at the Riverside Boutique Hotel in Hout Bay.
Let me give you some background information on Wold of Birds, what happened during the past few months and how Astral Foods’ Powerful Lifeline Rescued World of Birds from shutting its doors.
Background information on World of Birds
World of Birds Wildlife Sanctuary in Hout Bay is rated one Cape Town’s top ﬁve natural tourist attractions next to the city’s iconic drawcards, Table Mountain, Cape Point, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden and Boulders Beach.
Considered a world-class wildlife sanctuary, World of Birds was born in the early 1970s from Walter Mangold’s desire to help sick and injured birds and his knack for caring for them. He initially worked from home but Capetonians soon began calling him the Bird Man and bringing him injured birds from all over the city. This led Mangold to open World of Birds as a sanctuary for his hundreds of birds and animals. Today, it is the largest bird park in Africa and home to 2 500 birds and small animals, such as monkeys, tortoises, meerkat and porcupines.
In addition, the sanctuary focuses on breeding rare and endangered species. It is the only organisation in the world to have successfully bred the endangered ground hornbill.
Although this may read like a real-life Dr Dolittle feel-good story; the reality is that the 45-year-old sanctuary has been facing an ongoing ﬁnancial struggle. All of which has only been compounded in the last 12 months.
Financial struggles of World of Birds
Wold of Birds was under severe pressure in 2018. Due to South Africa’s faltering economy and Cape Town’s water crisis; many overseas visitors stayed away during the traditional tourist season. Combined with the rising operational costs. This came on the heels of the 2017 outbreak of avian ﬂu in South Africa. Placing the entire World of Birds sanctuary under quarantine.
Although the park did not have to close, its veterinarian bills kept increasing. Visitors stayed away under the misconception that humans can contract avian ﬂu when around infected birds. Not knowing that it can only be contracted by eating the meat of an infected bird. Or coming into contact with its droppings or bodily ﬂuids. Throughout this, the team continued to accept injured and ill birds and never deviated from their no-kill policy. Despite their best eﬀorts, only 20% of the animals they rehabilitate; recover suﬃciently to fend for themselves in the wild. The other 80% have to remain at the sanctuary.
While the sanctuary’s income therefore dropped, operational costs grew to around R650 000 per month. To bring some financial relieve; the 40 staff members of World of Birds had to work on a short time basis during this time. This was to reduce its wage bill, which comes to R4,5 million a year.
Astral Foods Involvement
In August 2018 upon hearing of World of Birds’ plight, Astral Foods decided to step in to assist. Chris Schutte says, “The World of Birds is a Cape Town institution that does excellent work. We could not ignore their plight and decided to become involved in an endeavour to assist the park.”
Since August 2018, Astral Foods has been providing the sanctuary with an R100 000.00 worth of feed per month until such time they are financial sound. In a year, this would translate into feed worth R1,2 million, the equivalent of 80% of World of Birds’ annual food bill.
Astral Foods further undertook to redrill a borehole on the property to reduce its reliance on municipal water. Once the borehole is up and running again it will cut World of Birds’ annual water bill with approximately R300 000.
Schutte says the group has also oﬀered to assist with biosecurity at the sanctuary through Central Analytical Laboratories (CAL), one of its divisions. This will give World of Birds access to the expertise and experience gained at one of the most modern laboratories in Africa, most notably with regard to managing and eradicating AI.
World of Birds’ assistant director Hendrik Louw says, “Right now, things are looking much better compared to the beginning of the year and it is largely thanks to Astral’s donation.”
Who is Astral Foods?
Astral Foods Limited (Astral) is a leading Southern African integrated poultry producer. Its key activities are animal feed pre-mixes, the manufacture of animal feeds, broiler genetics, the production and sale of day-old chicks and hatching eggs as well as integrated breeder and broiler production operations, abattoirs and the sale and distribution of its poultry brands.
The brands in the Astral stable include Country Fair, Festive, Goldi, Earlybird, Mountain Valley, Ross Poultry Breeders, National Chickens, Meadow Feeds, Tiger Animal Feeds (Zambia), Tiger Chicks (Zambia), Meadow Feeds (Mozambique), Mozpintos (Mozambique) and CAL Labs.
Visit Astral Food for more information.
What can we do to help?
Besides the financial contribution that Astral Foods is currently making to assist; this bird sanctuary needs the support of the public to stay in operation . By that I mean, people need to visit the park. With the City Siteseeing bus stopping on its doorstep, it is a popular tourist destination. Access to the park costs R120 for adults, R45 for children, R75 for pensioners and students (when you produce your card). School tours are also welcome. You can also assist by becoming a member and making donations.
My family and I will be heading back to visit this tropical paradise during the school holiday to explore all the colourful birds, mammals and reptiles.
Have you visited World of Bird yet and how was your experience?