We've got news for you.

Register on TimesLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

Cape vulture flies into trouble again

13 April 2018 - 15:10 By Petru Saal
About 90% of those injured vultures are from power line collisions.
About 90% of those injured vultures are from power line collisions.
Image: Wikimedia Commons

A tagged vulture was found with a maggot-infested wing in the Eastern Cape on Tuesday - a year after being electrocuted by a transmission line.

The Cape Vulture is facing a decline in population numbers and dozens of the birds are killed on transmission lines wind turbines.

Kerri Wolter‚ CEO of the conservation organisation‚ VulPro‚ said that about 73 vultures were injured every year and the number was increasing.

“About 90% of those injured vultures are from power line collisions. It has a huge effect on the species and that is why rehabilitation is so important in order to try and save them and put them back out otherwise they would be lost to the population‚” she said.

“The problem is that there are just so many of these structures out there. What we need the public to do is‚ if they see a vulture‚ acknowledge the bird and report it to us. Whether it is tagged or whether it is sitting on a powerline. The more reporting we get of birds sitting on power lines the better we are able to report that to Eskom.”

In a detailed Facebook post the organisation explained how they saved a Cape Vulture after it had been electrocuted.

“On the 10 April 2018‚ VulPro was informed that one of their tagged vultures‚ Cape Vulture (CV) 283‚ was in trouble in the Molteno district of the Eastern Cape. When collected on the 11 April‚ this bird was found to be yet another survivor of an electrocution on the Eskom grid network‚ however‚ the site where the bird was collected as well as the tagged information is of huge concern for the plight of Cape Vultures in the Eastern Cape.”

CV 283 had previously been injured by a transmission line in the Burgersdorp area in February last year. She was moved to VulPro in the North West to recuperate. After that she was given wing tags and released from the Magaliesberg mountains.

“Remarkably‚ a year later this young bird found her way back to the Eastern Cape. But what makes it so tragic‚ is that she was found a mere 0.8km from the nearest wind turbine on a wind farm‚ alive but electrocuted with a badly burnt infested wing covered with maggots.”

VulPro said vultures in Africa were decreasing at an alarming rate. “Cape Vultures are classified as endangered‚ with just 4 200 breeding pairs left globally. The Cape Vulture is the only endemic vulture species to southern Africa and has already become extinct as a breeding species in Namibia‚ Zimbabwe and Swaziland.”

Andre Botha‚ of the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)‚ said significant sums of money had been spent on ensuring the safety of animals near power lines.

“In South Africa we are in a very fortunate position. We are really the only country in Africa that is in active engagement and in conversation with our main power utility. They have done a lot of work to try and make power lines safer. You can imagine with the network that they do have it’s not the easiest thing and a lot of their power lines are more than 40 years old‚” he said.

“Eskom has over the years spent millions of rands where they have identified lines and made structures more safe. They constantly working at improving that technology‚” he said.