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Vulture Culture

Scientific name: Gypaetus barbatus meridionalis
English: Bearded Vulture
Zulu: uKhozilwentshebe
Sotho: Ntsu
Afrikaans: Baardaasvoël

taking-measurements_Shanon-Hoffman

In former times, the distribution of this magnificent raptor extended from the Cape of Good Hope, along the eastern mountain spine of Africa into northwest Africa, then through to the Middle East, and into Europe and central Asia. Now the only population left in the Southern Hemisphere resides in our isolated and rugged Maluti-Drakensberg highlands. This endangered African sub-species has suffered more than 30% decline in recent history and there are thought to be less than 100 pairs left.

 

Conservation Status

The Bearded Vulture is classified as Endangered in Southern Africa, based on the small and declining population size, restricted range, range contraction and susceptibility to several threats in Lesotho and South Africa.

Their populations are threatened by the fact that there is less food available to them because of better rural farming practices and thus less stock mortalities. Their feathers, skins and body parts are used for ceremonial and traditional medicine purposes. They also fall foul to traps and poisoned baits set out by farmers trying to eradicate stock killers like jackal and feral dogs, and are also vulnerable to electrocution on power lines.

 

Did you know?

The Bearded Vulture used to be known as the Lammergeier, which in German means “lamb vulture” and referred to what people thought were their lamb-catching tendencies. This inappropriate name has done these large scavenging birds a great disservice.

 

What can YOU do to help?

  • Take part on the Giant’s Castle Challenge and support conservation efforts.
  • Help dispel the myths that these birds “catch lambs”.
  • Do not leave poisoned carcasses to kill this bird or other animals.
  • Work with the conservation authorities to establish vulture feeding sites.
  • Become a nest site champion and monitor the breeding success of a pair of birds.
  • Monitor any Bearded Vultures that visit or breed on your land, let us know that they are there, and keep an eye out for marked birds.
  • Report any Bearded Vulture moralities to your local conservation officer.
  • Help Bearded Vulture conservationists to spread awareness among rural communities, children and farm workers.
  • Sponsor the tracking of a vulture to obtain valuable scientific information.

 

The Maluti-Drakensberg Vulture Project

maluti

This project was established with the initial aim of monitoring nest sites to determine population trends. The project has now expanded to include the implementation of various actions aimed at mitigating the threats to the species. The project has a group of enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers who monitor the Bearded Vulture throughout its range in Lesotho and South Africa.

 

The project aims to:

  • Obtain an accurate estimate of population size and nesting success for Bearded Vultures in Southern Africa.
  • Identify and address any conservation threats, such as a decrease in habitat and food supply, human persecution and disturbances at nests, poisoning, and collisions with power lines.
  • Establish the breeding and foraging range of the species and track their seasonal movements.
  • Encourage the establishment of feeding sites throughout their foraging range to ensure a regular source of “safe” food.
  • Ensure the long-term survival of the species by protecting at least part of its breeding and foraging range through partnerships between conservation organisations and land users.
  • Establish whether the population is genetically viable.
  • The project’s activities require an extensive education and awareness programme, which together with a concerted effort to address the threats to the species, will go a long way to ensuring its long-term survival. You have a role to play in ensuring the survival of the Bearded Vulture.

 

For more information, contact

Sonja Krueger
skruger@kznwildlife.com
Regional Ecologist West uKhahlamba
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, P.O. Box 13053, Cascades, 3202
Tel: +27 (0) 33 239 1516
Fax: +27 (0) 33 239 1515
Cell: +27 (0) 82 877 4122

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