Home World Africa's largest vulture relocation could help save the threatenend animals

Africa's largest vulture relocation could help save the threatenend animals


Vultures threatened with extinction because of poisoning and electrocution have received a lifeline following the start of a breeding and rewilding programme in South Africa.

The first group of 155 Cape and African White-backed Vultures have found a new home at Shamwari Private Game Reserve in the country’s Eastern Cape.

A second phase will see the relocation of breeding pairs of non-releasable Lappet-faced, White-headed and Hooded Vultures and some additional White-backed Vultures.

The project is a collaborative effort between VulPro, an organisation whose mission is to preserve the ecological role of vultures.

Described as “nature’s cleanup crew”, they feed mainly on carcasses and remove animal remains which helps to prevent the spread of diseases and reduce the risk of epidemics.

Shamwari’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre serves as a sanctuary for birds that for various reasons cannot be released but are valuable for breeding programmes aimed at conserving the species.

Many livestock owners give their animals an anti-inflammatory drug that is deadly to vultures if consumed via a carcass.

People using the bird for traditional medicine and electricity power lines also pose a threat to the animals.

Lisa Horn, Shamwari’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre’s supervisor, said: “Power lines are these birds’ main issue. It’s human infrastructure. Wind turbines are also a problem. The birds collide with them, get electrocuted. They try to perch on them or nip their wings on the pole, lose balance and then plummet down.”

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