Crime & Accidents News
04 May 2018

Hartebeespoort – VulPro, the NGO that safeguard Africa’s vulture population, announced an alarming spike in the number of vultures killed or permanently maimed by South Africa’s electrical grid. A sum total of 23 vultures were killed or permanently injured during April this year.

An average of three vulture fatalities a month was recorded for the entire 2017, totalling 40 birds of mainly the endemic Cape Vulture could be driving our endemic Cape Vulture (gyps coprotheres) towards extinction.

Cape Vultures are classified as globally endangered, with fewer than 4200 breeding pairs left, putting them on par with the endangered black rhino which a population of around 5 000 animals. They are slow in breeding, reaching maturity between five and seven years of age and laying one egg a year.  As the only endemic vulture species to southern Africa, they have already become extinct as a breeding species in Namibia, Zimbabwe and Swaziland.

Vultures travel vast distances in search of food, water sources and breeding sites. They fill a unique and irreplaceable role in the ecosystem by preventing animal remains from decomposing in the open air; thereby decreasing the spread of deadly diseases such as rabies and even anthrax.

They often use power line structures to roost on as these offer a safe, elevated, vantage point from where they can easily lift-off and climb thermals.  More often than not, power line related injuries maim birds for life, with no chance of being re-released back into the wild.

Collisions usually result in broken wings and legs which may need amputation and/or pinning, whilst electrocutions nearly always result in fatality.

Kerri Wolter, founder and manager of VulPro, said:

“The tragedy of this latest unacceptably high tally is that it is possible to proof power lines to prevent these mortalities from happening. The unsafe electricity grid should be seen as a priority for the survival, in particular, of the endemic Cape Vulture. We have a responsibility internationally to safeguard this iconic species.”

April marked a 7-fold increase in the amount of vulture deaths and maiming caused by South Africa’s power grid.


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