Vulture Culture Experience
Vultures, also known as scavengers are integral to the ecosystem, as they are the rubbish collectors and cleaners of the bush – without them there would be more disease in our immediate environment, adversely affecting wildlife, domestic animals and humans. Vulture stomach acid is exceptionally corrosive; allowing them to safely digest putrid carcasses infected with botulinum toxin, hog cholera bacteria and even anthrax bacteria that would be lethal to other scavengers.
Vulture Culture Experience
Every day from 13:00/13:30 Victoria Falls Safari Lodge have the Vulture Culture Experience complimentary to all visitors, which is a conservation project that strives to protect endangered vultures, whilst educating visitors about these remarkable birds. It’s a safe feeding site where animal carcasses are provided as an artificial, safe food source for vultures on a regular basis. This practice not only serves to assist in the continued survival of vultures, but also increases awareness of vultures.
Briefing With Moses At Victoria Falls Safari Lodge
It’s actually quite remarkable to see. Visitors gather outside for a short briefing before walking down to the vulture feeding hide, where a well-educated member of the team informs spectators of his actions, as he prepares the animal carcasses for a lunchtime feed. Within moments a committee of vultures gather in great numbers from above, waiting for their cue – the feeder knows he needs to be quick. He gives the signal and dashes to the feeding hide. Without a second to lose, the vultures converge in absolute pandemonium swooping in and pouncing on their prey.
Vultures Converge in Absolute Pandemonium
Bystanders watch in fascination as the wake of vultures rip and tear chunks of meat off the animal carcasses all around the hide. The sound, smell and feeling of the unsettled dust from the mammoth attack is unforgettable.
Some of the species commonly seen at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge include, but are not limited to:
1. White Headed Vultures
2. Hooded Vultures
3. Lappet Faced Vultures
4. Cape Vultures
5. White-backed Vultures
6. Yellow Billed Kites
7. Tawny Eagles
8. Marabou Storks
Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust, together with Victoria Falls Safari Lodge are conducting the following research:
Nesting sites and vulture counts.
Fitting satellite tracking devices and tags to monitor movement and habitat regionally. Occasionally tagged vultures appear at their site providing valuable information, which is submitted to VulPro (Vulture Protection in Southern Africa).
The Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust is a non-profit organization whose mission is to advance and promote environmental conservation in Southern Africa through active wildlife research; management of wildlife veterinary diagnostic laboratory and rehabilitation facility; the education and empowerment of local people in the sustainable utilization of indigenous resources through active involvement in conservation training and community outreach programs.
So what can we do to help this great initiative? Beware of the potential use of vulture body parts in traditional medicine. Educate friends and family regarding the importance of vultures as guardians of the ecosystem. Actively encourage the use of ‘green’ medicines for livestock. Lobby for the banning of toxic substances, such as Furadan and Aldicarb. Lastly, any donations to the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust will contribute enormously.
Read more about the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust here.
• Two of the most common vultures at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge are listed as endangered species. The Hooded Vulture and the White-backed Vulture.
• Globally, vultures are the most endangered group of all bird species.
• Eight of Africa’s eleven vulture species have declined at an average of 62% across all regions over the past 30 years, so conservation efforts are crucial.
• Vultures are ultimate recyclers – able to strip a carcass in just a few hours, they keep our natural environment clean and disease free.
• By consuming dead animals, scavengers play a key role in the environment by preventing disease outbreaks and recycling nutrients.
THREATS TO THE SPECIES
Due to the width of vultures wingspan, they are unable to change direction easily at short notice, so power lines are a constant hazard.
Loss of food supply:
As humans encroach on wildlife areas, vultures’ food diminishes.
Poachers poison vultures to avoid alerting rangers of the location of a poached animal.
Farmers may use poisoned bait for predators that prey on their herds of livestock.
Livestock treated with diclofenac will kill vultures if the animal dies and is consumed.
Traditional healers believe different body parts of a vulture can cure diseases and provide foresight through dreams.
Vultures are mistakenly perceived as pests by certain cultures.