Scientific Name: Gyps coprotheres
Zulu: iNqe Yasekoloni
The Cape Vulture is southern Africa’s only endemic vulture species, and has recently been uplisted to ‘endangered’. The species breeds in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana and Mozambique. Cape Vultures formerly bred in Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Namibia, but it is now extinct in Swaziland, with only small, non-breeding populations remaining in Zimbabwe and Namibia.
The southern African population is listed at 2900 breeding pairs, of which approximately 1450 reside in the Maloti-Drakensberg mountains- about 20% of the population. Cape vultures live in colonies of up to 1000 breeding pairs, and despite large extended families they are loyal to one partner. They have a potential lifespan of over 30 years.
Cape Vultures fall victim to a number of threats, including poisoning and electrocutions and collisions with energy structures, and as a result their numbers are declining. In 2013, the number of Cape Vultures in the Maloti-Drakensberg mountains killed through poisoning (be it by poachers or irresponsible farmers) is estimated at 110 birds. The number of Cape Vultures killed through electrocution and collisions with powerlines is 52 known individuals. These figures do not include incidents that have gone undetected, birds that have been scavenged at the site, that have died away from poisoning or collision sites, or chicks left abandoned at nests.
Check out www.vulpro.com for information on the work being done with the Cape Vultures of the Magaliesberg