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Here we have facts, videos, and images for you.
Also how you can help save the Bearded Vulture from extinction.
One of seven endangered vulture species in southern Africa, the beautiful Bearded Vulture is being pushed to extinction by habitat loss and degradation, together with human-raptor conflict. Often poisoned or shot, conservationists’ efforts to help local people better understand these misunderstood scavengers are vital in ensuring the Bearded Vulture continues to soar through the skies.
Meet Shannon on a mission to save them
Margrit and Russ (Nikela’s founders) travel Africa looking for people saving wildlife. Not the big guys, the little guys. They found Shannon in South Africa. Shannon and her team are on a mission to save the Bearded Vulture fromextinction. LEARN MORE…
Care to help save the Bearded Vulture?
Distribution & habitat
The Bearded Vulture occupies a vast range, being found in Europe, Asia and Africa. African populations are found in the Atlas Mountains, Ethiopian Highlands and South Africa’s Drakensberg, as well as parts of Sudan, Kenya, Zaire and Tanzania. Bearded Vultures are usually found at high elevations in mountainous areas.
The species gets its name due to the presence of dark bristles on the under its bill which resemble a beard. Unlike most vultures, the species is not bald-headed. When in flight, these regal raptors are identifiable by their unusual tail shape – which is long and wedge-like – and long, narrow wings. Adult Bearded Vultures are dark grey/black or grey-blue, with a darker tail. They have orange-red areas on the neck and abdomen from bathing in iron-rich mud or water.
Like other vultures, the species is a scavenger and consumes carrion. However, the Bearded Vulture is unusual in consuming a peculiar part of animal remains; the bone marrow. To reach the marrow, the vulture has to pick up bone pieces using its talons and drop them onto rocky areas, called ossuaries, to shatter the bone. This is repeated until the vulture can reach the marrow. Adult Bearded Vultures are able to digest smaller pieces of bone due to the very high acidity of their stomach contents.
Social groups and breeding
Bearded Vultures are mainly monogamous, but it’s known for unpaired males to join a male-female pair to form a polyandrous trio. The female lays up to three eggs. If more than one chick survives, after hatching the older chick will kill the other(s) within a few weeks. Feeding and caring for the chick is divided between the parents – which is why having an extra male around in a polyandrous group to share parental duties comes in useful.
Conservation & threats
The Bearded Vulture is classified by the IUCN as Least Concern. However – although the species occupies an extremely vast range – population densities are low. Numbers of the species are decreasing across the three continents they occupy. In southern Africa, the Bearded Vulture is one of seven vulture species facing extinction. Classified as endangered in this area, Bearded Vulture numbers are dwindling due to habitat loss and degradation, together with human-raptor conflict. Bearded Vultures are accidently killed by poisoned bait intended for predators like jackal, and deliberately poisoned or shot due to people fearing the species will prey on their livestock. Vulture death also occurs from collisions with power cables and wind farms.
How can you help keep the Bearded Vultures soaring
Shannon began a challenging project to breed bearded vultures in 2015. As this may be critical to the survival of this beautiful bird we are doing all we can to support the project. If you care to help your donation is much appreciated.
Besides the breeding program education remains key in reducing human-raptor conflict. This is where people like Shannon Hoffman and her team come in. Shannon helps reduce persecution of Bearded Vultures and other raptors (Lanner Falcons like Chicken) through in-school and community outreach to help local people understand these birds better, together with caring for injured raptors at her sanctuary which rescues and rehabilitates South Africa’s birds of prey.
With your donation, Shannon and her team can protect and rescue more raptors – so the Bearded Vulture continues to soar through the South African skies for years to come.
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