New vulture hide opened at Giant’s Castle

2014-08-22 00:00

A NEW bearded vulture hide has opened at Giant’s Castle to help support this critically endangered species.

Bearded vulture populations are fast declining. They are now being considered as a critically endangered species in South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland and will be listed as such in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of threatened bird species which will be published later this year. Only about 400 individual bearded vultures and 100 breeding pairs remain in the wild in South Africa and Lesotho.

They are particularly vulnerable to threats posed by poisoning, power line electrocutions, wind farms and traditional medicine.

Despite having core breeding areas in the Maloti Drakensberg Park World Heritage site, bearded vultures’ ranges often extend beyond the boundaries of the Park, where they face significant threats. The effects of the ongoing threats have been highlighted by the Maloti-Drakensberg Vulture Project.

“In the race to save South Africa’s vultures, a second vulture hide was opened recently near Giant’s Castle in the Maloti Drakensberg Park. This follows the opening and success of the first hide at Cathedral Peak in 2013,” said Kevin McCann, deputy director at Wildlands Conservation Trust. “The hides offer a means to safe-guard bearded vulture populations by providing a safe and stable source of food.”

N3 Toll Concession’s (N3TC) Commercial Manager, Con Roux, said N3TC has partnered with Wildlands Conservation Trust and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife to help fund the construction of vulture hides in designated sensitive areas. “It provides us with an opportunity to link tourism initiatives with conservation interventions,” he said.

Both the Giant’s Castle and Cathedral Peak vulture hides were designed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s Glenn Harboth and constructed by Lawrie Raubenheimer of Heritage Design and Creations cc.

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