National Vulture Count on International Vulture Awareness Day 2016
In preparation for International Vulture Awareness Day 2016, all of our monitoring teams across Zululand are geared up to perform vulture counts on Zululand Rhino Reserve, iMfolozi, uMkhuze, Somkhanda, Tembe and Ithala Game Reserve. These activities form part of an annual National Vulture Count and will be driven by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife in KwaZulu-Natal where our teams will be operating.
The ideal sites have been chosen where carrion will be laid out to attract and feed the vultures (these are called “vulture restaurants”). On International Vulture Awareness Day 2016 our teams will sit at the sites and count and record all vultures and other raptors that come in to feed. We will be sharing the results next week, so watch this space.
Vulture counts involve counting the number of vultures by specie at all existing, active vulture feeding sites. The exercise aims to provide a minimum count of all vultures and also to raise awareness. The count will provide estimates of the non-breeding vulture population – particularly juveniles, as well as establish a national count of each species.
All reserve owners or managers with active feeding programmes have been asked to arrange observers to identify and count vultures (and other raptors) feeding at their restaurants simultaneously. Observers will complete data forms, which will be collated and analyzed to produce a report. It is essential to record the species and number of birds at the site, and ideally age classification as well. Any markings/tags seen on the birds will also be recorded.
Vultures are extremely important members of an ecosystem. These magnificent raptors fly in from huge distances to pick rotting carcasses clean thereby helping to control disease outbreaks. Many vulture species are now only abundant within protected nature reserves and these characteristic sightings are becoming more and more of a luxury. If the poaching and poisoning of vultures for body parts continues, there could very well be no nesting pairs left by 2020…