World of Birds Wildlife Sanctuary has raised R42 000 in an effort to keep its doors open and staff employed. This is far from its R1-million target which is needed to carry Africa’s largest bird park through to its next season.
The Hout Bay tourist attraction had to sell a portion of its property off to stay open after avian influenza struck in May. This is the first time in 40 years that the land was available for sale.
World of Birds performs an important community service as a haven for sick and injured birds, as well as other small animals, and relies greatly on donations and bequests. The sanctuary offers its rehabilitation services for free and has done so for the past 40 years.
In a statement, World of Birds founder Walter Mangold and general manager Hendrick Louw said that the land will need to be sold to generate the needed funds. “This process, unfortunately, may take up to one year with the survey and application for sub-division, while we do not have any leeway time-wise,” the statement read. “The needs are not only for the birds and animals, right now we do not know how to pay 40 permanent members of staff by next week.”
As the number of visitors to World of Birds has remained unchanged since 2016, the income generated from visitors has remained static as well. This impacts negatively on the sanctuary, as its operating costs have increased from R500 000 to R650 000 per month. The sanctuary received 103 000 visitors during 2016, and this has remained unchanged in 2017.
International tourism growth has also slowed down by 2%, and this has also had an impact on the sanctuary.
World of Birds is aware that local support is affected by the rising cost of its goods and services, but the rise in its operational costs paired with its nine-month long veterinary quarantine has decreased visitor numbers.
The sanctuary is trying its best to cut down on all overhead costs, but there are still obligatory yearly costs.
Last year’s donations and bequests amounted to R180 000.
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