Each new year brings new challenges, and the Vulture Conservation Programme (Vulpro) is about to face its biggest challenge yet. Focused on the rescue and rehabilitation of African vulture species in South Africa, Vulpro approaches conservation from a holistic standpoint. Through aiding their rehabilitation and overseeing the release back to their natural environment, Vulpro believes that each individual vulture is key to the survival of the species and can teach us about vulture migration and behavior to better support them.
Vulpro’s impact will shortly reach new heights, as January 2024 marks a monumental moment as they have finally been approved for their largest vulture project in history. As they embark on a two-year relocation process, 155 vultures will be relocated 250 kilometers south from Vulpro’s Hartebeespoort Dam facility in Johannesburg to the Shamwari Private Game Reserve. The initial group of African vultures facing relocation this month includes Cape and African white-backed vultures, with lappet-faced, white-headed, and hooded vultures in the second group.
Although Vulpro’s goal is always to rehabilitate injured vultures and release them back to their wild environment, some injuries are too severe, and these vultures would not survive on their own. All 155 relocated vultures will begin the important work of repopulating the declining African vulture populations. These vultures have been deemed by Vulpro as “non-releasable” due to severe injuries, often broken wings, and will begin a journey to thrive in a safe area while still contributing to the growth of their species.
Vulpro’s work in rescuing and rehabilitating African vultures is crucial to the survival and growth of wild vulture populations in Africa. In the last 30 years, some African vulture species have seen declines in population of up to 90%. Their presence in the ecosystem is important because, as scavengers, vultures actively remove deceased animals, something that prevents the spread of disease and keeps the environment clean. Vulpro’s large-scale relocation project is an incredible feat for African vulture conservation and brings us one step closer to restoring vulture populations on the African continent. Vulpro is a conservation partner of the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo and the funds this year will directly impact this project, as well as Vulpro’s projects outside of this one.