Journal of the South African Veterinary Association
On-line version ISSN 2224-9435
South Africa is home to 9 vulture species, of which 7 are endangered. While the cause of the population declines remains largely speculative, a vast amount of effort has been dedicated towards the protection of populations by ensuring sustainable and safe food sources for the various colonies. Limited focus was placed in the past on efforts related to the rescue and/or rehabilitation (R&R) of injured birds and the release of these birds back into the wild. This paper provides an overview of the causes, the impact and success of 3 organisations involved in R&R efforts of vultures in the Magaliesberg mountain range and surrounding areas over a period of 10 years. Study material included 162 Cape griffon (CGV) and 38 African white-backed (AWBV) vultures. Datasets include the number, sex and age of birds received, the reason the vultures were brought in for R&R, surgical interventions performed and outcomes of rescue efforts. The CGV dominated the rehabilitation attempts. Results further show that a large number of apparently healthy birds were presented for veterinary treatment. The R&R data clearly indicate that the major cause of injuries was birds colliding with overhead pylons, as a high number of soft tissue and skeletal injuries were observed. The study also shows that successful releases of rescued birds are possible. It is concluded that urbanisation has had a major negative impact on vultures around the Magaliesberg mountain range.
Keywords : African white-backed vulture; Cape griffon vulture; Gyps; Magaliesberg; rehabilitation; rescue; vultures.