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Why is Vulture Conservation So Important?

Vultures are nature's cleanup crew, scavenging and disposing of animal remains that could otherwise become breeding grounds for disease. By swiftly recycling organic matter, Vultures help prevent the spread of illnesses that could affect both humans and animals.

Despite their importance, Vulture numbers across Africa are in rapid decline and their range numbers have decreased by up to 70%. Despite being critical to our ecosystems, vulture numbers are in serious decline, with only 50 to 100 breeding pairs of Bearded Vulture in South Africa and Lesotho and about 4,500 breeding pairs of Cape Vulture left in South Africa.

Of the six Vulture species that occur in South Africa, all are either Vulnerable, Endangered, or Critically Endangered. Due to their regionally critically endangered International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List status; the Bearded Vulture is of particular concern for this Project.

Vultures face a number of threats, including poisoning, electrocutions and collisions with energy infrastructure, habitat loss, and food shortages. Not only are these birds a vital part of our ecosystem; they are also equipped with a digestive system that contains special acids able to handle a number of diseases that are seriously harmful to human beings, making their protection critically important for preventing the spread of disease.

Response strategies implemented by Wildlife ACT and its partners in include: Responding to emergency events, the fitting of GPS tracking equipment, monitoring, wingtagging, breeding population tracking, reducing demand for Vulture parts, and enhancing awareness, avocation, and excitingly, the creation of a vulture safe feeding zone in the Southern Drakensberg.

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