Cape Town Photographer
09/09/2015 / By Russell Tranter
About Eagle Encounters
Eagle Encounters is a self-funded non-profit wildlife rehabilitation, conservation and eco-tourism center located at Spier Wine Farm in Stellenbosch The facility was founded in 2001 by Hank and Tracy Chalmers on land donated by Spier Wine Farm and it provides the perfect location for the rehabilitation, release, conservation, education and eco-tourism programmes. As their name suggests the main focus is on birds of prey and the rescue and rehabilitation thereof. Where it is not possible to release birds they are kept on site for education purposes.
Many have been injured too badly to fend for themselves or were hand raised therefore identify humans with food and will also not be able to make it on their own. The reasonable entry fee at Eagle Encounters gives you all day at to explore the facility and access to watch ALL the flying shows that are spaced throughout the day. One can watch birds in action as they show off their flying and hunting prowess.
Most of the birds are kept in separate enclosures and their is a strictly no touch policy, however there is a touch area where one can get up close with the 3 ‘dancing’ Barn owls and the ever adorable African Wood owls. For the non-squeamish one can don a leather glove and go into the Bengal Eagle owl enclosure and feed them some raw chicken bits to nibble on.
A hands on experience
Other animals such as tortoises, rabbits, guinea pigs, Bearded Dragons and a small python are available to handle if one wishes.
The facility also offers up close and personal encounters with 2 of their older resident birds of prey Wally the Wahlberg’s eagle and Leo the large and impressive Verreaux’s eagle. One has to pay extra for but at the price of R25 and R50 respectively it’s well worth the experience and knowing the money will help in the upkeep of these majestic birds makes it even more worth it.
The birds and animals at Eagle Encounters give you the never-to-be-forgotten opportunity to interact personally, up close, one-on-one with raptors and endangered species.
Spier Wine Farm
As the facility is located on Spier Wine Farm one can go exploring there throughout the day in between the flying shows or go for a wine tasting after. If one wants to picnic at Spier it can be arranged a day in advance.
They are on call 24/7 to rescue birds of prey from both urban and rural areas in and around Cape Town. They also receive birds that have been handed in at other animal centres throughout South Africa, as well as birds confiscated by Western Cape Nature Conservation.
The full rehabilitation process for a raptor can take anything from 1 day to 4 years at Eagle Encounters and incur costs of between R20 and R20 000, depending on the species, rarity and the injury / condition of bird.
This is where eco-tourism comes in to raise funds for the rehabilitation and upkeep of the birds.
Where it is not possible to release birds they are kept on site for education purposes.
Many have been injured too badly to fend for themselves or were hand raised therefore identify humans with food and will also not be able to make it on own.
Spier Wine Farm is a committed partner of Eagle Encounters when it comes to rehabilitation and release of raptors. The farm’s strong eco-drive, including the practice of organic farming methods, provides an excellent environment for the release of the smaller raptor species. Many of the surrounding farms, from which they have obtained permission to hunt and release the birds, also practice organic farming methods.