Humans halve Vultures’ numbers

2015-02-11 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Satellite trackers on the backs of bearded vultures have confirmed researchers’ fears that this species is fast disappearing.

Extensive fieldwork was done by KZN Wildlife and the University of Cape Town’s Percy FitzPatrick Institute for Africa Ornithology from 2007 to 2014 in the Eastern Cape, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal — including large parts of the Drakensberg.

The ornithologists lured 21 vultures with meat and attached the 70 gram, solar-powered ­trackers to their backs. The trackers sent an hourly signal from 5 am to 8 pm to enable the researchers to monitor the birds’ flights and location. Dr Sonja Krueger of KZN Wildlife said 10 of the vultures were poisoned and one was ­electrocuted on an overhead cable. The remaining 10 vultures are still being tracked. The harnesses tying the trackers to the birds’ backs will eventually crumble with age and the transmitters will fall off.

Eighty percent of these birds’ diet is bones, making them vital scavengers. The number of bearded vultures has halved since 1960.

Dr Arjun Amar of the University of Cape Town said the vultures live in large areas and one adult can feed from an area of 286 km².

“The impact that people have on vultures is very serious. The plans to build several wind farms in the Lesotho highlands will place more pressure on this very vulnerable species and could be the final nail in the coffin of the bearded ­vulture,” Amar said.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.