Engaging Youth In Vulture Conservation Around Kruger National Park

In 2022 a poisoning event in Kruger National Park, South Africa, resulted in the death of 120 vultures, impacting the already low vulture numbers in these areas. Poisoning incidences are regularly reported, caused by poison being left for pests and the use of anti-inflammatory drugs in livestock, which is lethal when ingested by vultures.

Tagged Vulture, monitored by Vulpro.

But vultures are one of nature’s most talented waste disposers. As ecosystem cleansers they are vital to the healthy functioning of many ecosystems. By consuming the remains of dead animal they remove toxins from the environment that are harmless to vultures but could be deadly for other wildlife.

We recently created a new resource booklet for our Pan African Conservation Education (PACE) project all about vultures to share how amazing they are, the threats they face – from poisoning to power line collision – and how misunderstood they can be, incorporating superstitious beliefs and their use in traditional medicine. 

PACE in collaboration with Vulpro and the Rural Initiatives for Sustainable Environment (RISE) unit from the Southern African Wildlife College conducted four live webinars to raise awareness of the value of vultures in and around Kruger National Park.

The webinar was joined by teachers, students and rangers from South African National Parks. Each session provided an insight into vultures through a virtual tour of VulPro’s facility, a live stream of flying vultures and feeding stations and a presentation of the PACE vulture booklet.

The webinar series was a huge success, and lead to Aubrey Maluleke from Northern Kruger and his team, who attended the webinar sessions, to create an 8-week programme for children from 9 local primary and secondary schools. This programme continues to build vulture awareness through conservation education activities and experiences, including a field trip into Pafuri in Northern Kruger Park where children we able to visit a nesting site and observe vultures up close. One of the topics they have covered focuses on vulture senses and how you can determine their mood. Did you know that the bald patches on their chest, known as blushing spots or eyes, will change colour depending on their mood?

Tusk is excited to see collaboration across projects and the positive knock on effect that these webinars have had. Ensuring that children get to experience the wildlife they live so close to and understand the importance of vultures for public health and the ecosystem as keystone species is crucial for conservation success. Find out more about vultures by visiting our PACE website and reading our vulture booklet which can be found online here

Tusk has supported VulPro since 2009, providing annual funds supporting a range of project needs from the monitoring of the Cape Vulture population, to developing a database for tagged vultures, community workshops and a solar water pumping system.

Southern African Wildlife College

The Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC) was established in 1996 to give natural resource managers, at all levels, the motivation and skills they need to become partners in saving the continent's natural heritage.

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