The Hawk Conservancy Charitable Trust
July 4th, 2002, was a momentous day in the history of The Hawk Conservancy. Not only was it the day when HRH the Duke of Gloucester officially opened the new Bird of Prey Hospital but also it was the day that saw the launch of The Hawk Conservancy Charitable Trust.
The Trust had been a long time in the planning stage and the hospital formed a vital base from which the Trust could do its work. Obviously, one of the main aims of the Trust is to care for injured wild birds of prey - we receive up to 200 a year and the intention is to ensure that as many of them as possible can return to a meaningful life in the wild.
The hospital was funded by voluntary subscriptions, with a £10,000 donation from one individual setting the ball rolling. But along the way it has received backing from many other individuals and organisations - even the ferret races that are such a popular form of entertainment for both children and adults alike help by raising funds at each race to help support the charity's work.
The hospital itself is not open to the public, but there is a viewing gallery that enables visitors to the Conservancy to see some of the facilities such as the treatment and incubator rooms. It is hoped that by reducing stress and trauma for the injured birds, one of.the biggest killers of injury victims, the hospital will help raise the success rate of the treatments given. Several Conservancy staff are trained in injury assessment and the Trust's veterinary surgeon, John Chitty, visits several times a week to check on the patients. By bringing the vet to the birds rather than taking the birds to the vet, the stress of travel is reduced. Only in cases where major surgery is required do we still take the injured birds to the vet's main surgery. But there is far more to the hospital than just being a place to treat injured birds. Over time, it is hoped to develop it into a centre of excellence for research into birds of prey and the diseases and injuries that afflict them. This side of the Trust's work is already growing, with university students already undertaking research work from the hospital.
In addition, the Trust's projects director is also active in studying birds both at home and abroad - a big project lasting several years involves the study of African White-backed Vultures in their wild habitat which sees the director spendinq several weeks a year in South Africa. This research into vulture behaviour is vital for an understanding of the birds' ecology. The importance of such studies has been demonstrated by the plight of the Oriental White-backed Vulture, a species that went into rapid decline for unexplained reasons from the mid 1990s. The Trust and the Conservancy are both actively involved in the future well being of the species, with the Trust projects director managing the European breeding programme for the species and the Conservancy providing a home for the individual birds it is hoped will be the nucleus of a future breeding colony.
Help for the Trust is vital over the coming years. This can be through membership, donations, or legacies. Anyone planning a tax efficient donation or legacy will be interested in the charity's registered number - 1092349.
We would love to hear from you if you would like to help in this way.