Many vultures and a number of eagle species are listed as threatened or endangered and projects focusing on their continued survival will ultimately serve much wider conservation needs. Waltons Stationers Namibia has previously supported conservation efforts for large birds of prey and once again they have provided assistance. The current project is a pamphlet describing development and maintenance of a vulture feeding station. The pamphlet not only supports conservation efforts but also offers ideas to encourage tourism and benefit income-generation on farms.
Vulture feeding stations are also known as vulture restaurants. They have been used as a conservation tool for scavenging birds of prey since the 1960s. In Namibia the first formal vulture restaurant was established by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in the Waterberg Plateau Park in an attempt to assist the declining Cape Vulture population that roosted and at one time nested on the northern cliffs of the plateau. Subsequent vulture restaurants have been established in Namibia, but to date nothing has been developed locally to provide an overview of necessary information especially including a list of veterinary livestock medicines that may be dangerous contaminants in carcasses for scavenging birds. Because of this information the pamphlet has been approved and electronically distributed to veterinarians by the Veterinary Council of Namibia.
Vultures’ ability to spot carcasses from the air and then their manner of approaching the carcass can alert farm management to a dead animal. This usefulness is often highlighted as it provides the farmer with a warning that might flag a potential livestock disease outbreak, expose a poaching event or alert the farmer to other predators on the land. Vultures also consume a carcass in a short space of time thus discouraging scavenging mammals and preventing the breeding of blowflies. However, there is other potential positive value to supporting vultures and this is described in the pamphlet sponsored by Walton’s Stationers Namibia.
The pamphlet not only describes the incentives and benefits of a vulture restaurant, it also discusses choosing and managing the site, networking with neighbours and creating a viewing hide that can be used for photography and for scientific monitoring. Contact details are provided for reports on birds with leg-rings or wing tags.
Copies of the pamphlet are available in Windhoek from the NAU (Namibia Agricultural Union), Napha (Namibia Professional Hunters Association), and will be available in July at AGRA branches nation-wide. The pamphlet was prepared by Liz Komen of NARREC (Namibia Animal Rehabilitation, Research and Education Centre) and can be found at www.narrec.net