Wildlife poachers in Africa are targeting vultures by poisoning the carcasses of
the dead animals they feed upon, causing an unprecedented decline in
the birds' population.
Vultures are caught in the cross-fire of rampant poaching because
they typically congregate at and feed on a freshly killed animal,
drawing the attention of game rangers. To avoid this poachers inject
the carcass with poison turning it into a fatal meal.
Nearly 1,500 of the birds have been killed in the past two years in southern Africa,
conservationists say. Last year between 400 and 600 vultures were found
poisoned from a single carcass in Namibia's Caprivi Strip.
Another year and another October trip down to South Africa for Graham.
He joined the team for 2 more weeks of conservation work with White Backed Vultures,
tracking and monitoring the wild population which continues to face serious threats.
The key objective is to locate young White Backed Vultures so they can be tagged to aid
future observation and research.
The routine goes something like this.
The first and most important task is to track down a likely looking nest site and establish
if there is a chick of the right age inhabiting it.
Then the tricky job of climbing the tree and bringing the young vulture down, where
it is 'processed'. This means taking measurements such as size and weight,
and a general health check including taking a blood sample.
Next they attach large wing tags and a leg ring.
The vulture is then returned safely to its nest and left in peace.
The whole procedure takes a maximum of 15 minutes and Graham and the team
have got it down to a fine art.
This visit covered the usual areas where Gauntlet has been working for many years.
At Dronfield 58 birds were processed and at Makcarla it was 51, making a total of 109 to add
to the hundreds of others from previous years.
Graham and everyone at Gauntlet are very proud of the work we do in Africa and we
can't stress enough how much we appreciate all your generous support, without which
none of this would be possible.
Gauntlet Conservation Trust made a financial
contribution towards the recording of this years young vultures.