Since time immemorial these magnificent vultures have roamed the skies of the southern African subcontinent.
Although only a small part of the incredible richness of Namibia’s biodiversity, they play an important role in the food chain.
Man’s impact though has, as always, had a devastating effect on vulture populations and it is our task as custodians of the wild and beautiful areas we are privileged to ride in, is to do all we can to help protect these unique creatures.
A volunteer-run ringing project to determine population trends of Lappet-faced Vultures occurs annually in an area our Namib Desert Safari traverses. The ringing of the vulture chicks takes place in October just before the young birds fledge and a few of Namibia Horse Safari Company staff participate in this worth project
Begining with an aerial survey lasting 3 days (18 hours of flying)
GPS co-ordinates of potential breeding attempts are relayed
Right: Vulture chick in nest as seen from the air
Below, ground crew removing the chick from the nest for ringing
During the past 100 years with increased industrialisation, agricultural output and growing human populations, vulture numbers have decreased dramatically. Unlike many other birds that can vary their reproductive rate to suit environmental factors, vultures are unable to do so. Furthermore, the reproductive cycle for most vulture species lasts approximately 12 months. Consequently, fatalities have a profound impact on populations. Although many vultures breed in national parks, game reserves and protected areas, they often feed on farms and communal areas. Here they become victims of the unrelenting struggle between farmers and predatory mammals attacking domestic livestock
Below, ringing the chick
Right, refuelling aircraft in the desert
Below, Vultures drinking at Hotsas water hole
Thanks to camera traps at waterholes, re-sightings of these magnificent birds has increased dramatically. The public are encouraged to assist by recording patagial tag numbers and reporting to the study group.
This ongoing projectis providing important information on the status and breeding of these charismatic birds
Below, sometimes the camera traps capture more than just the wildlife - riders on a Namib Desert Safari guests caught on camera!
Vultures Namibia visits farming communities to promote vulture conservation. This is done through the local agricultural farmers associations and conservancies. Talks illustrated with photos, maps and graphs makes farmers aware of the importance of vultures in the ecosystem and the dangers that the birds face from indiscriminate use of poison
The cost of the exercise (hire of plane, fuel, etc) is covered entirely by donations. All team members, including pilots are volunteers receiving no remuneration.
Namibia Horse Safari Company are proud to be associated with this project and hope to continue seeing these noble birds roaming the skies about our rides for a long time to come.