The process of safely relocating Egyptian Geese from a residential complex.
OUR CLIENT’S NEED
Monto Rosso is an attractive residential complex in Brackenfell. A few months ago a pair of Egyptian geese decided to land in the complex and, after a few residents fed them, decided to stay. What initially seemed to be a cute addition to the complex, soon developed into a real problem when ten goslings hatched. The resultant family was now making quite a racket and their droppings were defiling the pool, court yard and lawn areas.
Figure 1: The flock enjoying the Monto Rosso complex lawn and swimming pool.
Figure 2: Droppings on the complex grounds.
DESIGNING A CUSTOMISED SOLUTION
After conducting many successful goose removals this job was straight forward for NCC. As per usual we applied for and were duly granted a capture license by Cape Nature ensuring, as always, that our methods are humane and not going to cause any harm to the animals, a great relief for many of the residents with concerns for the birds wellbeing!
The complex manager was then asked to start the pre-baiting process where the birds become accustomed to being hand fed. This is a critical step as the same hand feeding method is used to ensure their capture without any non-target birds consuming the bait.
Figure 3: Hand feeding the birds is much easier once they are accustomed to it.
First thing on an early November morning two of NCC’s experienced conservation technicians arrived at Monto Rosso to do the capture. The eleven strong flock was easily found conveniently located in the centre of the complex away from any danger or obstacles and under the shade of a tree and keeping nice and cool under a sprinkler. An ideal capture scenario.
The team followed all the necessary procedures for the safe handling and accurate dosing of the breadcrumbs with the sedative which were then hand-fed to the geese. This is why pre-baiting was necessary as if they were not used to eating this way it would have been very difficult to administer the sedative.
Figure 4: Conservation technician Jonathan Bell safely laces the bread crumbs.
As there was one adult goose and 10 goslings the sedative was adjusted to be very mild in order to better suit the goslings. The flock was once again counted then fed an adequate amount of the laced bread. The flock was kept under close observation while the team waited for the sedative to take effect and the birds were ready to be caught. After an hour, the birds were sufficiently sedated to allow them to be gently scooped up in nets and loaded into their carry boxes.
Figure 5: The waiting game starts and the flock is kept under constant observation.
Once caught and loaded the area was then visually swept for any others, the number of captured geese double checked and any leftover bread crumbs picked up and removed. The entire capture operation from time of feeding to loading the catch box took less than two hours and was conducted without any harm coming to the birds or any of the concerned resident’s feathers being ruffled either!
The birds were then immediately transported to Zeekoevlei where they were released and monitored for half and hour to ensure they were all healthy, happy and able to adjust straight away to their new surroundings.
Figure 7: The flock released into more appropriate natural habitat.
Figure 8: A win for our client, the geese and NCC.
Perception is always an important element when dealing with human and animal interactions. Many people do not fully understand the problems they cause when feeding and taming wild animals such as Egyptian geese and often become upset when removal intervention is required. They expect it to be cruel when in actual fact it is harmless and often of significant benefit to the animal. This is why environmental education is so important in teaching people that it is better to leave wild animals alone and understand that safe removal is the best and most humane way to deal with situations of human-wildlife conflict.
ACHIEVING REAL GROWTH
NCC’s solution was 100% successful and very efficient taking less than 2hrs to remove the troublesome flock. From our clients perspective this was a successful operation. The residents are no longer disturbed by squawking geese waking them up early in the morning, put off swimming by the fouled swimming pools or having to clean endless carpets and shoes of goose droppings - a huge relief to all.
In a large urban setting such as the City of Cape Town, human infrastructure and activities place huge pressure on the remaining populations of indigenous wildlife. It is our responsibility to manage the inevitable conflict in a way that finds a solution that: 1) considers in-situ mitigation measures; 2) includes an educational element for the people affected; 3) places the highest value on the humane handling and welfare of the wildlife (even when euthanasia is the only option); 4) takes the conservation status of the species in question into consideration; 5) assesses the broader ecological impacts and the impact on established populations of the same species at available release sites and 6) Complies with all relevant legislation and by-laws.