Saving Botswana’s Vultures with Wilderness Safaris


Henry Parsons and Martin Benadie


Vultures are vital in maintaining ecosystem balance, and are the ultimate ‘clean-up crew’ helping limit the spread of diseases such as anthrax and rabies. But their numbers are plummeting globally. Vultures in Africa face an unprecedented period in time where they battle with many significant threats and consequently their numbers are dropping at unsustainable levels. Of the five vulture species in Botswana, all are either Critically Endangered or Endangered according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. If these population trends continue they are threatened with possible extinction, which will have dire consequences in healthy ecosystem functioning and food webs.

During the last week of February 2021, Wilderness Safaris assisted Raptors Botswana, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and the Botswana Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) in doing vital work pertaining to vulture conservation in the region. The aim of this particular exercise was to fit satellite tracking devices on six different birds, and five devices were successfully fitted on three different vulture species. The fitting procedure was done quickly with no undue stress to the birds, which were all soaring high in the African skies in record time again.

Image by Andre Botha EWT

The movement data that will be collected frequently from these devices will go a long way in better understanding their use of space over ever-decreasing foraging ranges . For Wilderness Safaris, this was a wonderful collaborative effort with organisations sharing similar goals in conserving such a vital species in the dry woodland biome.

To imagine African skies without majestic, soaring vultures would be heart breaking and an unthinkable outcome.

Written by Henry Parsons and Martin Benadie

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