AFRICAN peregrine falcons have come under fire in Port Elizabeth with at least three of the endangered birds being shot in the Lorraine area in the last month.
One of the raptors – known to be the fastest birds alive – was found dead along Circular Drive.
The other two were found alive – one on the corner of Circular Drive and the other along Kragga Kamma Road.
It is believed they were shot with an air rifle. The pellets will be sent for ballistics testing.
The surviving birds were taken to Wildline owner Arnold Slabbert, who rehabilitates wildlife.
The female peregrine was found on Chris Mackintosh’s property on the corner of Kragga Kamma Road and Circular Drive.
He found the bird lying outside his garage and nurtured it until Slabbert’s team could fetch it the next morning.
The pellet is lodged against her spine and Linton Grange Animal Hospital vet Pierre Vienings says it may be too risky to remove it.
Slabbert said it would take six months to rehabilitate the bird to the point where she could be released into the wild.
The male bird was shot in the wing and his wing bone was shattered. He will never fly again.
"If the bird can’t rehabilitate and go back to its natural environment, or can’t be used for breeding purposes, we feel that it is fairer for it to be euthanised,” Vienings said.
Falcon biologist Andrew Jenkins said the birds were red-listed as threatened birds.
"It’s highly likely that the birds were shot by pigeon racers trying to protect their birds,” he said.
Walmer Racing Pigeon Club chairman Gertjie Pitout said there were ways to avoid the two bird species meeting up.
"Falcons feed early in the morning so wait until 10am before you let your birds out,” he said.
Slabbert is offering a R5000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for shooting falcons and hawks in Lorraine. They could face an illegal hunting penalty of up to R100000.