Photo essay: Inside a sanctuary in Kenya, one of the last safe spaces for birds of prey

The Soysambu Raptor Centre treats hundreds of injured animals, with the hope of releasing them back into the wild

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At the Soysambu Raptor Centre near Nakuru, a city in Kenya, all kinds of injured birds, many of them critically endangered, have found refuge.

Located within the Soysambu Conservancy, a 19,425-hectare conservation centre that borders Lake Nakuru National Park in the west of the country, the centre is one of the few places where birds of prey are safe.

From white-backed vultures to bateleur eagles and owls, the birds here are being treated for a number of issues, including broken wings and bones sustained while jostling for food in the wild or during territorial fights.

While the main aim is to release them into the wild, many birds have permanent injuries and can no longer hunt for prey. The Soysambu Raptor Centre provides them with a safe environment for the rest of their lives, with many raising chicks, which are then released into the wild.

A study published in January by The Peregrine Fund, a US-based non-profit organisation, found the raptor population has fallen by 90 per cent on the African continent over the past 40 years.

The reasons for the decline are numerous.

Vultures and other scavengers have died from eating livestock remains – falling victim to a practice adopted by cattle farmers who poison carcasses to deter lions from approaching their herds.

Deforestation also plays a part as does the proliferation of power lines across Africa that prove fatal for birds who perch on them to hunt prey.

Dozens of towering electricity pylons, many installed in recent years, scar the Soysambu reserve.

The centre consists of 10 enclosures, with a capacity for 15 to 22 birds at a time, according to the Kenya Birds of Prey Trust, which manages the complex.

Established to maintain healthy raptor populations in the country, the Kenya Bird of Prey Trust also runs a number of educational and adoption programmes, working closely with the Kenya Wildlife Service. It also runs the Naivasha Raptor Centre in the nearby Kilimandege Sanctuary.

The remote location of the centres lends itself to raptor rehabilitation, the trust says, which is essential for the slow and monitored releases of birds back into the wild.

Additional input by agencies

Updated: May 17, 2024, 6:02 PM