Shangani Vulture Restaurant (SVR) has opened at Shangani Wildlife Sanctuary (SWS) in Zimbabwe’s Matabeleland North Province, along the Gweru-Bulawayo road.

The restaurant gives tourists the opportunity to view the birds at close range during and after feeding, as well as take advantage of photographic opportunities.

SVR is set on a rocky outcrop, and the birds are fed with offcuts from a nearby abattoir as well as wildlife carcasses.

 “The restaurant has been a very successful platform to educate tourists on the importance of vultures, and to build support on their conservation efforts,” says SWS.

It says cameras have also been installed around the restaurant to track the number and species of birds that visit. “To date, lappet-faced, white-backed, Cape and hooded vultures have all come to feed, with the white-backed – which is listed by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) as Critically Endangered – dominating.”

The next step for the Sanctuary is to work with the Vulture Conservation Programme in fitting tracking devices to lappet-faced vultures, in order to get an understanding of their range and nesting sites in relation to the restaurant. “This is still in its infancy, and we are starting the process of consulting with Zimparks in order to obtain the necessary permits to allow us to capture and tag vultures.”

Zimbabwe has six of the 11 main vulture species that are found on the African continent.