Honour for woman on a mission to save endangered vultures

2018-06-15 16:51
African Bird of Prey Sanctuary director Shannon Hoffman feeds Stimela, a female juvenile bearded vulture. Hoffman recently won an award titled Eco-Angel for her bearded vulture breeding project.

African Bird of Prey Sanctuary director Shannon Hoffman feeds Stimela, a female juvenile bearded vulture. Hoffman recently won an award titled Eco-Angel for her bearded vulture breeding project. (Ian Carburtt)

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The African Bird of Prey Sanctuary’s Shannon Hoffman recently won the Eco-Angel award for her efforts to conserve the critically endangered bearded vulture.

Hoffman won the award at the Eco-Logic Awards in Pretoria last week.

The Eco-Logic Awards identify individuals, organisations and communities that help towards creating a sustainable world.

Hoffman, the director of the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary near Camperdown, started the bearded vulture breeding project in 2015 in a bid to save the endangered bird from extinction.

The Eco-Angel award is given to an individual “whose actions have conserved, nurtured or restored the Earth’s life forms, eco-systems, or natural resources”, as stated on the Eco-Logic award website.

Hoffman said there are only 400 bearded vultures left in the Drakensberg Mountains and her breeding programme is an effort to save the birds from extinction.

She said on Thursday that typically, a male and female bearded vulture will lay two eggs but take care of and raise only one chick.

“We have the potential to take the second egg from the nest without affecting the birds or their way of life, and to raise them in captivity,” said Hoffman..

She said the bearded vultures already in captivity at the sanctuary were raised using puppets that look like the birds.

“It is important that they are raised and see their own kind,” she said.

Hoffman said the vultures lay their eggs high up in the Drakensberg Mountains and so the project requires them to fly around the mountains, searching for nests with two eggs.

She added that the eggs needed to come from different nests to keep the genetic pool from shrinking.

The programme was still going through its pilot stage and the first group of bearded vultures they have will be for their genetic reserve, she said.

Their adult female bearded vulture, Lesli — which means bird of light in Sotho — was the only fully grown bearded vulture in captivity. The sanctuary also has Mwezi, a three-year-old male.

Hoffman said Mwezi was the only male bearded vulture they had in captivity and the rest were female juveniles.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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