When Shannon saved the Bearded Lady she had no idea what was in store for her and the future of the critically endangered Lammergeier.
“In a chicken coop!”
How sad. This magnificent high flying bird of prey confined to a small wire cage. Okay, she’s a vulture, but undeniably the most beautiful raptor you can imagine. And entitled to the life of a free Bearded Vulture.
Shannon, the keeper of the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary, is one of our wildlife heroes. Her passion, since she was a youngster, has been the lions of the skies, Africa’s fabulous birds of prey.
At her sanctuary confiscated, imprinted and permanently disabled raptors make their forever home. A select few are Ambassador birds. These are the hand-picked birds Shannon trains for her memorizing and educational flight shows.
So, it wasn’t unusual for the local wildlife authorities to call Shannon when the Bearded Lady was discovered in a chicken coop. Shannon went out to see her. In a village not too far away a Sangoma (local medicine man) held The Bearded captive. Apparently she had pretty much grown up in the chicken coop and it was the only life she knew.
Shannon wanted to work things out with the Sangoma. Shannon believes in educating others and persuading them to see the value and important role raptors play in the environment. However, the wildlife authorities saw it a bit differently.
The Bearded Lady was confiscated from her chicken coop and brought to the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary. She was in decent health. Shannon says the Sangoma’s home was not much better than the bird’s. Sadly, due to her long term confinement she could not fly.
Although building the Bearded Lady a forever home was first on the list, Shannon’s mind started racing. The Bearded Vulture was under serious threat of survival in South Africa. Main threats being high tension electric wires, agricultural poisoning, and traditional medicine. The talk of installing wind turbines along the escarpment of the Drakensberg Mountains also poses a huge threat for big birds like the Bearded Vultures.
Shannon knew it was time to do some serious thinking and discussing with other experts. In the meantime, the Bearded Lady needed her home, which of course cost money. Thanks to our supporters Nikela Volunteer Jess personally delivered a check to assist with the project in 2012.
The Bearded Lady got her new home. And what’s most rewarding is that she has learned how to glide. She spreads those big wings and glides down to the ground from her cliff like wall. She can drop her bones (this species of vulture eats bones) from her cliff too. She even has a wallowing rock. Bearded Vultures like to rub themselves in red mud, not sure why, but they do. It’s what gives them the reddish brown color on their naturally cream colored fronts.
The Bearded Lady recently became a mommy! As several chicks have now been hatched at the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary. This is part of the program to increase the numbers of these beautiful birds with the goal of reintroducing them into the wild.
The Bearded Lady, is the icon for her species. Saving her from a chicken coop is about so much more than just saving one bird. But saving and entire species of Lammergeier from extinction.
During 2017 we spent a bit of time at Shannon’s place to assist and hand deliver a donation. In October 2018 we stopped by to again deliver a small contribution. Total of $3,000.
Your gift is always welcome.