Juvenile White-backed Vulture released at Mokala National Park

Early in May Riëtte Griesel, a volunteer of the Endangered Wildlife Trust, made a call to Ronelle Visagie, EWT’s Platberg Karoo Raptor Project Coordinator regarding a White-backed Vulture that was found at the Engen 1-Stop near Springfontein. The vulture was weak, hungry and very stressed. Riëtte kindly looked after the vulture for about three weeks. She also fed it with springhares and road kills that she found on the road between Springfontein and Bethulie.
The juvenile vulture recovered very quickly and what a relief that it could get out of the large cage and fly again. Riëtte says: “I’m very fond of vultures and they are beautiful and very special… when I looked into its eyes, my first thoughts were you are Beautiful!!”
When it was time to release the vulture, Riëtte took it to Mokala National Park where there is a breeding colony of vultures. Jarryd Elan-Puttick, a ranger sergeant at the Park, placed out a warthog carcass so that the juvenile can have easy access to food. Ronelle ringed and marked the bird. Beautiful was reluctant to fly at first and could only spread her wings to sun bathe. After a while the bird flew to a tree where it sat for hours preening its feathers.

19 Riëtte Griesel with Beautiful  May 2015 015
Riëtte Griesel with Beautiful

20.Beautiful sits on a tree   May 2015 065
Beautiful on a tree

White-backed Vultures breed on top of Camel Thorn trees in the Northern Cape. They only lay one egg. The chick stays on the nest for about 16 weeks before it starts to fly. These young birds find it very difficult to locate food and they fly very long distances in their search for carcasses.
There are a number of threats to these large, magnificent birds. They are poisoned, collected for muthi, drowned in reservoirs and electrocuted on power lines. Please report all power line incidents to Constant Hoogstad on 082 334 4176 or email to constant@ewt.org.za.

Ronelle Visagie
Project Co-ordinator: Platberg Karoo

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