Vulture Awareness Day addresses plight of unique birds of prey

Posted by Elise Kirsten on 6 September 2019

Watching vultures gather en masse, circling high above the ground where they know they’ll be fed each day at 1pm at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, in Zimbabwe, is a spectacular sight.

Vultures are an ecologically vital group of birds that face a range of threats, including electrocutions and collisions with power-lines, poisonings and exposure to toxicity through veterinary drugs in many areas where they are found. Populations of many species are under pressure, and some face extinction.

Vultures wait eagerly for bones and scraps of meat at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge. Image: supplied.

Saturday 7 September is International Vulture Awareness Day (first Saturday of the month each year), which aims to highlight the plight of these raptors. While not traditionally considered as majestic as eagles, vultures are a marvel in their own right.

Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, part of Africa Albida Tourism’s portfolio in the town of Victoria Falls, recognised the value of these birds of prey and initiated its Vulture Culture experience in 2011, making ‘every day Vulture Awareness Day’.

Guests and visitors to the restaurant can sit on the lodge’s deck and watch the birds circle and then descend in a flurry of feathers when the food – bones and leftover scraps of meat from the lodge’s on-site restaurants – is served. Or, if you prefer, you can make your way down to the feeding area and watch from ground level.

A vulture comes in to land at the feeding site. Image credit: Elise Kirsten

‘AAT’s goal is to supplement the birds’ diets to keep them away from dangerous areas where they are under threat,’ says Nommy Vuma, Africa Albida Tourism (AAT) Group Marketing Manager.

‘Generally, you would find only three breeding pairs of vultures within a 500km radius, but with constant pressure on feeding areas, the Vulture Culture experience plays and important role in providing a source of food as well as an informal monitoring of the numbers and species that visit the restaurant.’

Vultures and some marabou storks begin circling on the thermal currents about half an hour before feeding time at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge. Image credit: Elise Kirsten

‘This activity was initiated in 2011 when an animal died of natural causes at our waterhole, attracting vultures and other birds to the site,’ says Vuma. ‘With professional advice and extensive research on the drastic situation we decided to continue putting meat out on a daily basis.’

‘Valuing and actively conserving our indigenous wildlife resources is vital for tourism in and around Victoria Falls,’ adds the marketing manager.

Guest can enjoy the Vulture Culture experience under shelter from the hot, African sun. Image: supplied.

The experience is not only educational but also contributes to scientific research and assists with conserving the vulture population under threat, in collaboration with Vulpro (a world-renowned southern African vulture conservation organisation) and Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust.

Vulture Culture Experience which takes place daily at 1pm at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge

‘Every day is Vulture Awareness Day thanks to the Vulture Culture Experience,’ states Africa Albida Tourism, one of the leaders in the hospitality industry with a portfolio of luxurious hotels, lodges and restaurants in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

For further information visit africaalbidatourism.com

A number of species of vultures and other birds tuck into the daily feast. Image credit: Elise Kirsten

 

Find out more about the feeding initiative:

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