VulPro, the vulture conservation centre in Hartbeespoort, has expanded its operations into the Gauteng and Eastern Cape Provinces with the opening of its new satellite site at Bronkhorstspruit, as well as new release sites in the Eastern Cape.

The new Vulpro site.

VulPro has since 2007, spearheaded vulture conservation across the continent and has worked throughout the globe on critical vulture research projects. Already known as one of the leaders and drivers in vulture conservation in Africa, VulPro, through the support of the Tusk Trust and the Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust, is now able to reach even further.

“VulPro currently houses the largest collection of non-releasable African vultures globally. In partnerships with GH Braak Farms and CS Vets, a captive core population of non-releasable vultures has successfully been moved to a fully sponsored and permitted satellite site at Bronkhorstspruit. With new diseases emerging, security risks ever present in South Africa and for insurance purposes for the species, sharing the load of such large numbers of non-releasable vultures across provinces within South Africa is sound and ethical conservation practices. This also allows VulPro to further increase its rehabilitation and captive breeding efforts which are directly aimed at benefiting wild populations, says Kerri Wolter, founder of VulPro.

Working together with the Eastern Cape nature conservation department and DHL Supply Chain, VulPro will now also release vultures in this province. “It is here where Phase 2 of VulPro’s captive breeding programme will commence where parent-raised offspring from our 2019 and 2020 breeding seasons, will be housed for a few months, followed by their release. Each vulture will be released with a SAFRING metal leg band, a coloured leg band for easy identification and resighting purposes as well as a GSM/GPS mounted backpack tracking device. With the ever declining Cape Vulture populations in the Eastern Cape due to power line related incidents as well as poisoning, only a few breeding sites remain as strongholds for the species in this province.

The Eastern Cape is well suited for a co-ordinated and managed vulture supplementation programme. In addition, some of the offspring produced at VulPro, are birds from the Eastern Cape birds that have been permanently maimed due to power line related incidents and we can now move them back to where they come from,” Kerri says.

“Hand in hand with this, VulPro will continue to address the ever-present dangers of threats such as unsafe power line structures and lines, lobbying for wind farm developments outside of vulture priority areas as well as further research and understanding of vulture movements in relation to proposed wind farm developments. We will also concentrate on farmer and landowner engagements with regards to safe farming practices to avoid the use of poison.”

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