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The birds were captured in Limpopo by EWT, flown to the park by the Batteleurs (a non-profit voluntary organisation) and then released into a cage at Stofdam in the park, close to the bird hide. They were released from the cage yesterday, 30 September 2012, and have already been spotted on Kudu and Warthogs.
The Red-billed oxpecker was prevalent in the greater Kimberley area about 60 years ago, but due to the use of dips and treatments for overseas cattle breeds, they disappeared from the region. According to Deon Joubert, Park Manager: Mokala National Park the birds have been re-introduced into the area because they once occurred there naturally, they are beneficial to mammals (livestock and game) as they help keep ticks and external parasite populations on the animals under control. Their main food source is ticks, including the larva and the adult.
Red-billed oxpeckers also keep animals’ wounds clean and remove rotting flesh and insects from the wounds. Joubert said “they will contribute to protecting the disease free buffalo in Mokala National Park from sickness, reduce the external parasite numbers on animals in neighbouring farms and help get the biodiversity back to the way it was before.”
Visitors are encouraged to help with the monitoring of the birds by reporting sightings at Mokala National Park's reception.
The Red-billed Oxpeckers in the cage at Stofdam in Mokala National Park.
The Red-billed Oxpeckers were re-located by the Batteleurs (a non-profit voluntary organisation) from Limpopo to Mokala National Park.
The Red-billed Oxpeckers being released into their temporary cage at Stofdam in Mokala National Park.
Gabrielle “Gabby” Venter
Manager: Media and Stakeholder Relations
Tel: (012) 426 5065 Cell: 083 825 9435