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Published: 13 Oct 2017

Veereier/Western Cattle Egret

Die vee-reier (Bubulcus ibis) is ‘n klein wit voël wat aan die familie van reiers behoort. Hierdie voëls staan in die volksmond as bosluisvoëls bekend. Dit is ‘n algemene standvoël in dele van sy gebied en ‘n trekvoël in ander. Dit is die enigste spesie in die genus Bubulcus. In Engels staan die voël bekend as die Western Cattle Egret en in Nederlands as die Koereiger.  Die voël is 48 tot 54 cm groot en 280 tot 450 gram swaar. Hulle is klein, kompakte witreiers met ‘n kort snawel, nek en bene. Die snawel is geel en die bene is olyfgeel. Die volwasse voël het dofgeel pluime op die kroon, mantel en bors.

The western cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis) is a species of heron (family Ardeidae) found in the tropics, subtropics and warm temperate zones. Most taxonomic authorites lump this species and the eastern cattle egret together (called the cattle egret), but some (including the International Ornithologists’ Union separate them. Despite the similarities in plumage to the egrets of the genus Egretta, it is more closely related to the herons of Ardea. Originally native to parts of Asia, Africa and Europe, it has undergone a rapid expansion in its distribution and successfully colonised much of the rest of the world in the last century.

It is a white bird adorned with buff plumes in the breeding season. It nests in colonies, usually near bodies of water and often with other wading birds. The nest is a platform of sticks in trees or shrubs. Western cattle egrets exploit drier and open habitats more than other heron species. Their feeding habitats include seasonally inundated grasslands, pastures, farmlands, wetlands and rice paddies. They often accompany cattle or other large mammals, catching insect and small vertebrate prey disturbed by these animals. Some populations of the cattle egret are migratory and others show post-breeding dispersal.

The adult cattle egret has few predators, but birds or mammals may raid its nests, and chicks may be lost to starvation, calcium deficiency or disturbance from other large birds. This species maintains a special relationship with cattle, which extends to other large grazing mammals; wider human farming is believed to be a major cause of their suddenly expanded range. The cattle egret removes ticks and flies from cattle and consumes them. This benefits both species, but it has been implicated in the spread of tick-borne animal diseases.

Published: 13 Oct 2017

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