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NSRI Vaal Dam duty crew were activated following reports of a 42 year old Johannesburg man who had gone missing while assisting to rescue birds and their eggs from trees on the flooded Vaal River.

Jake Manten, NSRI Vaal Dam station commander, said

The man, part of a team from the South African Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, had reportedly gone missing on the river while on a kayak.

The river, swollen from heavy rainfall, had 4 of the dam wall sluice gates opened at the time by The Department of Water and Sanitation.

Our NSRI rescue vehicle, towing our rescue runner rescue craft and with an NSRI Arc inflatable with swift water rescue gear responded and were joined by a Police Dive Unit, SA Police Services, ER24 ambulance services and Netcare 911 ambulance services.

A search was carried out along the river banks to as far as Groenpunt Correctional Services.

Eye witnesses suggested that they had seen a capsizing of a kayak further upstream earlier.

During the night a search was suspended and was resumed at first light on Tuesday, 4 January.

A staging area was established on the river to assist with the search coordination.

A Police helicopter joined NSRI Vaal Dam, Police divers, SA Police Services, ER24 ambulance services and members of Afri-Forum, in the ongoing search.

During the search the missing kayak was located wrapped around a tree and damaged and while an NSRI rescue craft searched that area along the river the man was found huddled in a tree that he had climbed to escape the rapids after being swept away when his kayak capsized.

He was rescued from the tree and taken onboard the NSRI rescue craft and brought to the staging area where was reunited with family, colleagues and friends.

He had reportedly remained in the tree throughout the night.

ER24 paramedics assisted with medical treatment for exhaustion and dehydration and following rehydration and further care he required no further assistance.

NSRI commend all services involved in the successful search and rescue operation.

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