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Critically Endangered Vultures Return Home

by | Green Living, Print Articles, Summer 2021

With vulture numbers continuously declining across their range, collaborations and multifaceted approaches are becoming more important in order to safeguard existing populations. Breeding endangered species in captivity is a conservation tool to protect species’ genetics and boost dwindling wild populations.

Since 2007, VulPro has spearheaded vulture conservation across the continent and worked throughout the globe on critical vulture research projects. In 2011, VulPro’s Cape Vulture breeding programme began, with the intention of releasing all parent-reared offspring back into the wild. The programme has grown to now include four other African vulture species.

Detroit Zoo, based in Michigan, USA, has long championed vulture conservation and education through maintaining African vultures in its collection. After several years of planning, permitting and preparations, finally one Lappet-faced Vulture and four Hooded Vultures from Detroit Zoo have joined the captive birds at VulPro. These birds have endured ground transport, a trans-Altantic flight, and 60-plus days of quarantine. Today these birds have been welcomed at VulPro where they will be integrated into the captive breeding population. They will have the opportunity to pair and breed and their offspring will be released into the wild.

The four Hooded Vultures are the first of the species to be housed at VulPro and will form the founding breeding population. This partnership is the first of its kind and represents a monumental step in wildlife conservation. Notably, this is the first movement of critically endangered African vultures from the USA back to their native continent. This is only possible because of the existence of VulPro’s specialised facility and is a testament to the conservation ethics of Detroit Zoo and the quality care their staff members provided to the birds. These birds have returned home and now have the opportunity to contribute significantly to their species’ survival.

VulPro is a multifaceted vulture conservation organisation, based on the outskirts of Hartbeespoort, North West Province, South Africa. VulPro focuses in adaptive management approaches incorporating in-site and ex-situ vulture conservation strategies across the globe with focal points being: Rehabilitation, captive breeding for conservation purposes, research in all spheres on African vultures, as well as extensive educational, landowner-liaison and awareness programmes.

VulPro is one of the leading vulture conservation organisations in Southern Africa.To contribute to The Vulture Programme NPC – Reg #: 2011/127419/08 – www.vulpro.com