Juvenile vulture rescued from Pietermaritzburg house

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Ben Hoffman, from the Raptor Rescue Rehabilitation Centre, near Pietermaritzburg, is pictured with the young White-backed Vulture.
Ben Hoffman, from the Raptor Rescue Rehabilitation Centre, near Pietermaritzburg, is pictured with the young White-backed Vulture.
Raptor Rescue

Hungry and thirsty, but otherwise unharmed, a young White-backed Vulture is being cared for by the team at Raptor Rescue Rehabilitation Centre, which forms part of the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary on the Lion Park Road, just outside Pietermaritzburg.

Using a decoy bird and a tempting bit of meat, Ben Hoffman, from Raptor Rescue, managed to get the vulture down off the roof of a house in Deanside Road, Hayfields, on Sunday. Once on the ground he was caught, wrapped in a towel and caged.

Back at rescue centre, the bird was given a thorough check up. The good news was that, while he was emaciated and dehydrated, he had no major health issues.

“He is doing really, really well,” Hoffman told The Witness, “we just need to put some weight on him.”

Staff will be moving the young bird to an outdoor pen to continue his recovery after he spent a couple of days in the centre’s hospital wing.

White-back Vultures are native to Zululand, although some have been spotted flying in the Winterton and Ladysmith areas, and Hoffman believes this particular bird “somehow managed to get himself lost”.

It’s only the third vulture to end up in the city’s suburbs in the past 20 years.

Despite being widespread in Africa, White-backed Vultures are listed as critically endangered.

Numbers have fallen due to birds dying after eating poisoned meat or being electrocuted by powerlines.

The young vulture will be fitted with a GPS tracking device and then, when it’s healthy and fit again, it will be released in Zululand.

Two other White-backed Vultures, which have been treated for poisoning at the centre, will be returned to the wild at the same time.

Researchers hope the tracking devices fitted to the birds will provide them with more information about these vultures, who get their name from the distinct white patch on their lower back and rump.

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