Bee Sting our vulture with 9 lives! – Bee Sting’s Story Part Five

The wounds on Bee Sting's wing
The wounds on Bee Sting’s wing

After Bee Sting’s visit at Millstream Primary School and rescue by VulPro, she spent some time at VulPro before being released again.  We all gave a big sigh of relief hoping that Bee Sting would now keep her life a little simpler and give us fewer grey hairs.  Sadly this hasn’t been the case; about 10 days ago we had to fetch Bee Sting from Caribbean Beach in Hartbeespoort, she was brought back to VulPro and initially we didn’t realise what had happened to her.  She was able to fly to the top of the 9m enclosure and was her usual cheeky self, our plans were to let her settle again, make sure that she was well fed and then re-release her.  Bee Sting has an incredibly strong and stubborn personality which had helped save her life when she was stung by over 220 bees Bee Sting’s Story Part One, little did we know that her will to live had been tested again.

On the 26th of June, we noticed some blood on Bee Sting from her right wing, our vultures’ health is always very important, so we caught Bee Sting to find out what the injury is.  Imagine our horror when we discovered a burnt area on her right wing and some singed feathers – the only conclusion is a power line electrocution, which this miracle vulture survived.

When we collected Bee Sting she was on the ground in close proximity to a power line but because she showed no sign of injury and was able to fly, we didn’t realise that she had in fact been electrocuted and without another one of her “extra lives” would have been found dead.   Read about power lines here.

Getting rid of burnt and dead skin
Getting rid of burnt and dead skin

Bee Sting’s electrical burn was treated and healing well, until the itching and irritation of the healing process caused Bee Sting to “help” her healing process a little too much and she caused some new wounds.  This is very similar to when we have a cut or graze that is healing and we end up scratching it until it is sore or bleeding because the itching is driving us crazy.  The difference is we can be told to leave it alone and why, vultures don’t understand that rubbing and scratching their injuries only makes it worse.

Dr Dorianne Elliot treating Bee Sting at the Exotic Bird and Animal Clinic in South Africa
Dr Dorianne Elliot treating Bee Sting at the Exotic Bird and Animal Clinic in South Africa

Bee Sting was rushed to Dr Dorianne Elliot at the Bird and Exotic Animal Hospital at Onderstepoort, North of Pretoria for treatment and to try and save her wing.  Bee Sting has a hole right through the joint of her wing and shows some signs of infection, the tendons and ligaments are exposed and she has torn the follicle capsule on one of her primary wing feathers.  The original burns are healthy and very close to fully healed.  To prevent Bee Sting from “helping” heal her injuries, the innovative Dr Elliot devised a cap of fibreglass cast to stop Bee Sting from picking at the wounds as they continue healing.

Soft bandage padding
Soft bandage padding

The wounds were flushed and treated with an anti-bacterial ointment and then covered with a bandage and the fibreglass cap was placed over the bandage.

Great care has to be taken to protect the blood supply to a vulture’s wings as the blood vessels are very close to the skin with very little protection.  As far as we are aware a “cap” like this has never been used on a vulture before, so our brave, tough and cat-like

Bee Sting with her fibreglass "wing cap"
Bee Sting with her fibreglass “wing cap”

Bee Sting is proving to be a trailblazer all over again.

In spite of Bee Sting appearing to have 9 lives, we can’t risk her life.  This miracle vulture is going to live out her days in our important captive breeding programme run at VulPro.  The wild Cape Vulture numbers are so low, that literally every vulture counts to save the species.  At VulPro, Bee Sting can continue to supplement wild populations with her chicks and her legacy will live on.

If anyone would like to support Bee Sting, they will be able to adopt her by contacting either Kerri Wolter kerri.wolter@gmail.com or Mandy Schroder mandyschroder.uron@gmail.com to arrange this.

Bee Sting Adoption appeal

We would also like to invite you to come and visit Bee Sting and our other vultures at the centre, experience first-hand how important our work is, but most importantly come and see how special, intelligent and what characters our vultures are.

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