Education

VulPro understands that education and awareness campaigns and programmes are one of the most effective ways of saving our vultures. It is a way to engage socially responsible and caring people to ensure the survival of one of Africa’s most needed and iconic species.

Vulture Eduction At SchoolSchool groups including the special needs schools are encouraged to visit the centre and are given a 30 minute formal power point presentation in our educational hall followed by intimate encounters with 5 vulture species as well as other large birds of prey that are housed at the Centre. Each child receives a vulture booklet and interactive sheet to take home and/or complete in their classrooms, these include fun facts about vultures, games and pictures.

VulPro is proud to act as host and supervisor to students, post –graduate and doctoral, for their practical year and thesis; supplying accommodation, stipend and hands on conservation and rehabilitation experience, as well as research projects and invaluable field experience in areas such as capturing, tagging, monitoring and rescuing vultures.

Poster: Southern African Vulture SpeciesPoster: Threats to Vultures

The Vulture

A vulture is an easily recognizable bird with its large size, bald-head and hooked bill; which feeds on carcasses and majestically soars through the skies.

A particular characteristic of many vultures is the bald head, devoid of feathers. This baldness is a tool that allows them to be incredibly hygienic and clean whilst still ridding us of unsightly carcasses.

Vultures are found on all continents except Australia and Antarctica.

Vultures capture both extremes of the human emotional spectrum – from being highly sought after and valued for their perceived qualities of clairvoyance and “far sight”, to those who fear them as being dirty, disease ridden birds. It is society’s greed and rapacious appetite for profit (poaching and land use) and comfort (electricity) that has resulted in this special species’ rapidly declining numbers. What we do know is that they require support and far more data regarding their habitat and behaviour; and that their survival is vital to the survival of our wildlife and livestock by preventing the uncontrolled spread of disease.

Old World Vulture

Old World vultures belong to the family Accipitridae, which also includes eagles, kites, buzzards and hawks. They are not at all closely related to the superficially similar New World vultures and condors, and do not share that group’s good sense of smell. The similarities between the two groups are due to convergent evolution rather than a close relationship. They were widespread in both the Old World and North America, during the Neogene.

Vultures are scavenging birds, feeding mostly from carcasses of dead animals. Old World vultures find carcasses exclusively by sight.

Humans have made astonishing advances in technology and communication in recent years; however we are dangerously close to losing valuable species on our continent due to ignorance and mismanagement. Today, vultures all over the world are facing similar threats:

  • Poisoning
  • Electrocution
  • Habitat destruction
  • Declining food availability
  • Effects of NSAIDs in the vulture food chain
  • Direct persecution
  • Drowning in farm reservoirs
  • Disturbance at colonies
  • Illegal collection for traditional medicine

IMPORTANCE OF VULTURES

Vultures and other avian scavengers play a very important ecological role in clearing the veld of carcasses. By rapidly consuming remains of dead animals, vultures can prevent these carcasses from acting as host to various diseases that may spread to livestock. They can also alert farmers to dead stock, in this way potential disease outbreaks can be avoided.

Vultures play a vital role in helping landowners get rid of carcasses which are unfit for human consumption and which would normally have been ‘hygienically’ disposed of by burning or burying.

A really important fact is that vultures consume more carcasses than all the other scavengers put together, the loss of our vultures would guarantee that we would experience rotting, disease ridden vultures left in the veld and on farm land.

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