Volunteering at CROW by Alex Shortt

It pains me to even type this but unfortunately my stay here at CROW has come to an inevitable end. Do I wish I could stay longer? Of course I do.

Over the past 3 months I have gained more than just knowledge about working with wildlife here in South Africa. I have gained professional relationships as well as friendships. I have worked with some of the most dedicated people I have ever met in rescuing and caring for injured or orphaned wildlife. And what a team CROW have. Once the staff saw my enthusiasm to get stuck in and my love of animals, they went above and beyond to teach me. As a long-term volunteer I can easily say I have seen and experienced each attribute CROW has had to offer. I have experienced the great highs and challenging lows that come with working in a rehabilitation centre for animals. The thing I am most grateful for from CROW was their trust in me. I had the privilege of becoming a baby antelope Mum just after my first week of being here. That meant I had an essential role in the lives of these stunning baby antelope, bottle feeding multiple times a day/night and maintaining their enclosures to keep them as comfortable as possible.
My first baby was little (now huge) Coral, a female bushbuck and then later I was introduced to the cheeky Grey Duikers, Teddy, Ajax, Tessa and Marco, another Bushbuck, Mr Jovi and finally a little Blue Duiker, Baby Brando. One of the hardest days here at CROW was when little Marco had to be put to sleep when his injuries proved too much. You have them hard days, but it pushes you to work harder in saving the animals you can. I decided to volunteer at CROW because I truly love and believe in what they do here. Every animal here will be released someday when it is healthy and of the appropriate age.

CROW’s motto describes it perfectly “the best type of cage, is an empty cage”. Being on a release of an animal is nothing short of spectacular. Luckily for me I have been on the release of Egyptian Geese, a Pelican, Mousebirds, a Sparrow, a Weaver, a Canary, African Wildcats and Spotted Genets. The joy you feel when you see the look on that animals face when it sees its new future for the first time is incredible. Terra, our Pelican was one of my favourite releases as he just stopped and stared for ages at his new surroundings taking it all in. You just have to take a deep breath and imagine what they must be feeling in that exact moment. Just that. That feeling is what CROW is all about and I will never forget that feeling for as long as I live.
Time has come for me to return back to Ireland to my dog Gus and my family, but I can easily say I will be returning to CROW again in the near future once I can so I will say bye for now, and until we meet again. Slán go fóill, go dtí go gcasfaimid le chéile arís.

Alex Shortt

(CROW: JUNE-SEPTEMBER 2016)

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