The Maloti-Drakensberg Vulture Project, Project Vulture, is dedicated to actively taking a stand to ensure the protection and conservation of our vulnerable and critically endangered vulture species.
In 2013, more than 1440 vultures were poisoned in southern Africa. This alarming rate combined with other threats has forced many vulture populations down to critical levels. So much so, that if this high mortality rate continues, we may see these majestic birds disappear from South African skies forever.
The southern African Bearded Vulture population has been reduced to just 350 birds, and is listed as critically endangered. The entire population resides in the Maloti-Drakensberg mountain range, and this is the only viable population remaining in the southern Hemisphere.
There are currently approximately 1450 Cape Vultures inhabiting the Maloti-Drakensberg region. A shocking 7% of the local population was killed in poisoning incidents in 2013.
Both of these species of vultures face many growing threats which continue to encroach on their shrinking breeding and foraging territories. These threats include human persecution, poisoning, powerline collisions and electrocutions as well as collisions with wind turbines.
Vultures are an important ecological component, occurring at the top of the food chain. Healthy vulture population numbers are a clear indication of a well balanced environment. Vultures also play an important cultural, economic and aesthetic role, and are a symbol of our national heritage.
The vulture performs a number of important tasks which are vitally beneficial to humans, as well as the environment at large. These tasks include their “clean-up” properties; ridding the environment of decomposing carcasses. This prevents the spread of diseases such as anthrax, brucellosis and rabies. In India, the eradication of vultures through poisoning has been responsible for the ongoing rabies epidemic.
The Maloti-Drakensberg Vulture Project is a long term recovery project, requiring dedicated monitoring programs, the implementation of conservation actions, as well as public awareness and support. If effective recovery systems are not put in place and the slaughter of these raptors continues then it is but a matter of time, sooner rather than later, before this vital ecological component and protected species disappears from our skies forever.
For more information on Project Vulture please visit http://projectvulture.org.za