A joint initiative between VulPro, CapeNature, and Cango Wildlife Ranch recently resulted in the successful rehabilitation and release of a Cape Vulture.
VulPro, based on the outskirts of Hartbeespoort Dam in the Northwest Province, is a specialised vulture conservation organisation that also undertakes specialist rehabilitation of the birds. VulPro collects injured or grounded birds from every corner of South Africa in an effort to reduce losses – giving each bird a second chance at release and survival.
At the end of July, a vulture was found, hanging by its wing on a telephone pole. The injured bird eventually fell to the ground, and between VulPro and CapeNature, a team was dispatched to rescue it.
The bird was taken to the Oakhurst Animal Clinic in Swellendam, where it was X-rayed, given fluids, wound treatment, and antibiotics. Cango Wildlife Ranch then took the bird to Oudtshoorn Veterinary Clinic, for another thorough examination.
Thankfully, the bird sustained no fractures, and with treatment in hand, the team returned to the facility where the vulture was housed in the onsite care centre with another Cape Vulture undergoing rehabilitation treatment.
Being a social species, this rescue turned out to be a blessing in disguise for both birds, who could provide one another with social support during their healing. Both birds’ healing journeys were parallel, and they were moved together to an outdoor aviary on Cango Wildlife Ranch’s Private Reserve to provide more space in a more natural setting.
Once in the aviary, this vulture improved daily and, in no time, a hidden bush cam captured him flapping his wings and jumping from perch to perch.
Content with the recovery, the vulture was declared eligible for release. VulPro dispatched a representative to Cango Wildlife Ranch, to place a tracker on the bird, and simultaneously, plans were actioned for the release.
At the start of September, the vulture was safely crated and Cango Wildlife Ranch, with representatives from CapeNature and VulPro, hit the road enroute to the Potteberg Guest Farm which runs alongside the De Hoop Nature Reserve – home of the only known vulture colony in the Western Cape.
The crate was unloaded and carried to an open area. The door of the crate was opened and the bird took flight – instinctively knowing exactly where to go – it flew directly towards its colony.