DTI001 04_10_17

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Conservationists cycle 54 miles to save birds of prey

IMG 1369FOUR KEEPERS FROM Colchester Zoo, and Mike Simmons from A World of Wings, donned their lycra shorts last month to cycle from London to Brighton in an effort to raise money for Wildlife Vets International (WVI).

The charity bike ride, on September 17, was the beginning of WVI’s fundraising push this autumn for its Raptor Rehabilitation Programme, which has been selected for The Big Give Christmas Challenge 2017, the UK’s biggest online match-funding campaign.

If WVI can raise at least £3,000 in online donations by December 5, its donations will be doubled through matchfunding from donors.

Mike Simmons, bird trainer and owner of A World of Wings explained why he wanted to get involved: “Conservation of wildlife comes in so many forms and I like to help in every way that I can. Riding for wildlife in need of help was the motivation.”

The WVI’s Raptor Rehabilitation Programme is working in India, Bulgaria and South Africa to help vultures and other birds of prey that are being persecuted through hunting and the poisoning of carcasses, or indirectly through kite strings, wind turbines and the use of the drug diclofenac in livestock.

WVI veterinary teams are already working in India to increase the survival rate of injured birds and to increase their fitness at release. They are training local vets and rehabilitation staff in pre- and post-surgical treatment of the birds, as well as in surgical techniques. However, to ensure that its full conservation plans for 2018 can go ahead, WVI must secure £18,000 in donations.

Cyclist Chris Elsey works with birds of prey and small mammals at Colchester Zoo. He said: “After seeing WVI’s call for riders we gathered a small group of Colchester Zoo keepers, dusted the bikes off and went out for the odd training ride – some more than others. The day itself was brilliant fun and knowing the money we raised was going to an amazing charity, one that Colchester Zoo’s own charity Action for the Wild has been supporting since 2007, made it all the more enjoyable.”

● To donate to WVI, visit: www.justgiving.com and search ‘Colchester Zoo’ or ‘Michael Simmons Cycle’. Find out more about Colchester Zoo’s Action for the Wild at: www.actionforthewild.org

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