Kerri has always been passionate about animals and the environment and much of her youth was spent horse riding and with her dogs. After school, she obtained a secretarial diploma following advice that this was ‘the right thing’, then continuing her studies for Business Computing and Marketing and Business Management (MBM) diplomas leading to work as an accounts analyst for Standard Bank and administrator in Sasol. In her own words, this was not really the direction she wanted to take but “her horse needed to eat”. Fortune though led her to meet Professor Gerhard Verdoorn, then Head of the Vulture Study, Raptor Conservation and Poison Working Groups of the Endangered Wildlife Trust where she was appointed manager of the Vulture Study Group. She remained for 2 years and then moved on in 2005 to manage the Vulture Unit at the De Wildt Cheetah & Wildlife Trust. The opportunity arose there for her to hand-raise her first vulture and her passion and dedication towards the cause of vultures took off in earnest. She left De Wildt at the end of 2006 to establish the Vulture Programme under the wing of the Rhino & Lion Wildlife Conservation NPO, now independent as VulPro. So now Kerri has been involved in vulture conservation for 9 years, and has no doubt that vulture conservation is her calling in life, and a cause to which she is wholly dedicated in heart and soul. Needless to say, however, her training in business computing and management in those earlier days is standing her in good stead now in her role as Founder/Manager of VulPro.
Orbert & Notice
Standing behind the bench, Orbert Gayesi Phiri has been with VULPRO since its inception in 2007. Orbert is passionate about animals taking on the responsibility of looking after all animals at the centre, training our new students each year and pri- mary caretaker on Kerri Wolter’s frequent absences. Orbert has a truly special way with animals and they respond amazingly well to him, sensing he a friend. He goes the extra mile to ensure the animals take first priority and have clean drinking and bathing water and sufficient food. Orbert is a tremendous asset to the Centre, a team player, friend and part of our expanding family. Seated in front, Notice Kampion Phiri started with VULPRO in June 2007 just as a temporary employee, helping during the holiday periods when Orbert was on leave. His outstanding performance, hard work and enthusiasm made him indispensible and he has become the centre’s permanent primary maintenance person as well as expert vulture capturer. Only bitten once on his lip, Notice is fearless and enormously strong, ever protective of the farm and all its inhabitants. His hard work, dedication and commitment to the centre is greatly treasured. As with Orbert, Notice is a friend and an important member of our family.
Charles C Banda
Charles has an infectious sense of humor, never missing an opportunity to make a quick joke. Originally from Malawi, he joined VulPro in June 2012 on a temporary basis but became a permanent member of the team as he proved to be indispensible as the project grows. Charles helps with the birds, general farm work and maintenance. Having been bitten a few times by the Condors, Charles has exhibited great patience and passion for the birds as he still continues to work with the animals and make sure they are fed on a daily basis. As with Obert and Notice, Charles is a friend, team player and important member of our family.
My interest and love of raptors started in 2007 when I volunteered at a rehabilitation centre for injured or orphaned wildlife in Indiana, USA. Here I presented owls and hawks on my glove to school groups and people of all ages. Later, I volunteered at another rehabilitation facility in Kentucky dedicated strictly to raptors. After graduating from Indiana University with a Bachelors in Animal Behaviour I spent a few years in Kenya and Uganda managing primate research projects. I decided to pursue my Masters research through Rhodes University, South Africa’s Zoology department. I lived on site at VulPro for 2 years while collecting data on the release success of the Cape Vulture Supplementation project’s first 10 released captive bred chicks. After finishing my thesis I decided that going home was not an option! The Magaliesberg Mountains make the best backyard and I am thrilled to continue my work with VulPro’s small but dedicated staff.
Anzelle van Wyk
I am a passionate nature conservator, graduated with my Btech in Nature Conservation at Tshwane University of Technology in 2014. I have worked in a couple of different industries from field guiding, assisting vets, game captures to being a production manager for a TV series “Keeping Up With The Kruger” and lecturing at Centurion Academy for the Nature Management Department.
I volunteered at Vulpro in 2009 – 2010, animals are my life but birds are my favorite and since I’ve been involved at Vulpro my love for vultures grew. Now I am a full time assistant at Vulpro, it is an honour for me to work with these amazing creatures and contributing to conservation to ensure a future for our vultures and birds of prey.
It is awesome to be a part of the great team here at Vulpro and I look forward everyday to the new challenges that we face, every day is different, and I believe where ones passion is…ones love is and when you do what you love, you’ll be successful in what you do. By being a part of conserving these species, I believe, hope and pray in the growing success of Vulpro and all it’s feathered friend’s.