The first photos of the season of our nest with cameras in. Thanks to funds provided by Marriott, the equipment has been upgraded at the site and a second camera has been added to the alternate nest that is on the same cliff face. As at 27 May 2016 there is no sign that eggs have been laid yet, although the birds have been seen in the area. Lets hold thumbs that one of the nests are used this year!
Exciting news: The NestCam at the Bearded Vulture nest recorded two birds preparing the nest on the 8th of June.
The pair of Bearded Vultures bred last year and an egg was laid in mid June. The chick was raised and fledged successfully, so we are all holding thumbs that it will be another successful breeding season for them this year.
An operation was launched on the 17th of April to upgrade the equipment at the nest site to improve the quality of the images and increase the field of view. The project was primarily sponsored by Marriott (www.marriott.co.za) through the efforts of Olivia Taylor (http://www.fourelementsconservation.org/), with additional funding raised by Mark McTaggart and Clive Cowie through a trail run (https://www.facebook.com/groups/774525872628726). EnviroVision Solutions (www.evsolutions.biz) provided all the technical support with Alan McKenzie (EnviroVision Solutions) and Charl Brummer (KZN Wildlife) doing the onsite installations. Lets hope that the vultures will use the same nest for this breeding season!
A Bearded Vulture chick has fledged from a nest that has been eagerly watched by many fans via a camera in the nest for the past few months.
In 2010 Marriott sponsored a camera and supporting equipment (solar panels and batteries to charge the camera) to be placed in a nest at a secure location in the Maloti Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site. The equipment was installed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and EVS who have funded the ongoing technical support and connectivity. The camera equipment worked well but much to everyone’s disappointment, the adults decided not to breed that year. Bearded Vultures nest in large, deep potholes on high mountain cliffs usually above 1800 m. They often have a number of alternate nests on their territorial cliff and can use any one of these.
Several other challenges were experienced between 2011 and 2013 including the solar panels being smashed by vandals. Finally in 2014 the adult pair chose to lay their eggs in the nest with the camera in it. Early in September a chick hatched followed by a second one a few days later. Although the adults lay two eggs, they only raise one chick. The first to hatch is the strongest chick and is that one that is fed and cared for by the parents. Over the past few months the camera has shown the chick being fed and preened by both parents. Then finally after three months the chick has spread its wings and took its first flight at 8h47 on 3 December 2014 and returned at 9h20. It flew out of the nest again a few minutes later returning after two hours.
The fledgling will remain in the nest area for a few more months, still being cared for by the parents but also looking for food to scavenge in the landscape. Bearded Vultures feed mainly on bones which they scavenge from carcasses. This fledgling will take another 5-6 years to become an adult. The species is Critically Endangered in southern Africa and is threatened mainly by poisoning. They are targeted directly for use in the traditional medicine trade and indirectly by feeding on poisoned baits meant for jackal.
The camera in the nest is part of an ongoing research project undertaken by the Maloti Drakensberg Vulture Project. The project aims to quantify the decline in the species, investigate the mechanisms of this decline and determine the most appropriate management actions necessary to achieve a positive population growth rate.
For more information on the project visit www.projectvulture.org.za. For more information on EVS visit www. evsolutions.biz and for more information Marriott visit www.marriott.co.za.
Please find attached the movements of our 10 Bearded Vultures: Jeremia, Springbok, Pharaoh, Inkosi Yeentaka, Wandervogel, Lehlwa, Mac, Kloutjie, Camo, Mollie; and our Cape Vultures: Bennie, Traveller and Shuttle, that are fitted with satellite transmitters and included in our monitoring program
Bearded Vulture Nestcam
The latest update on the movements of the 10 Bearded Vultures and 3 Cape Vultures that are fitted with satellite transmitters and included in our monitoring program
We are excited to announce the launch of our NestCam Project, with pics of a pair of Bearded Vultures preparing their nest for the upcoming breeding season
Meet the birds included in the project