A World Leader in Vulture Conservation and Education
REST has developed and is now implementing an ambitious and coordinated programme aimed at conserving the last remaining Cape Griffon population in Namibia. The organization has become a leader in vulture conservation and is the first organization in Africa to put satellite telemetry on vultures.
After the successful capture of almost 800 vultures – with no injuries – REST is now advising researchers and conservation groups around the world.
Our education programme is primarily for land managers, farmers, and school children but also includes overseas visitors. It focuses on the ecological importance of raptors and scavengers in order to maintain a healthy environment and to build overall awareness of conservation issues these animals face.
REST’s Board of Directors knows many of the stakeholders in the country. We attend farmers meetings in districts across the country and attend local and national agricultural shows with our live educational non releasable Cape vulture – Nesher.
Educational talks about vultures and poisons are given approximately once a week at REST headquarters or around Namibia to school children, environmental groups and farmers groups.
Vulture Friendly Farms
Farmers who embrace the discontinuation of poison use on their farms and adopt other alternatives to protect their livestock are being awarded a beautifully designed sign to be posted on the landowners’ gate to demonstrate to the community that they practice ‘vulture friendly’ land management. These attractive and eye catching signs are sponsored by the Global Environmental Fund of the UNDP.
SOS-Save our Species Campaign
In 2004 REST launched the Save Our Species (SOS) Campaign school art competition which aims to raise the awareness of the plight of rare and endangered species with young Namibian children. Local school children were provided with information on our five ‘flagship’ species, as well as paints, brushes and cotton school bags produced by a local woman’s group. The children were then asked to paint their favourite species on the bag.
The second phase of the campaign focused on students at primary and combined schools in Grades 3-to-7. Seven towns were selected that fall within the key agricultural and farming areas covered by the overall Poison and Vulture Awareness Campaign. The Disney Wildlife Fund supported this special work reaching an additional 7,500 children.
By educating, informing and involving children in these towns, the awareness of the plight of rare and endangered species is raised in the minds of future generations of farmers and land users. Participation in the competition by children at these schools has helped bring the message to approximately 10,000 children. Awareness and education of a wider Namibian and international audience was reached through the production of the winning designs printed onto 2000 eco friendly cloth shopping bags which are sold throughout tourist and grocery shops in Namibia. This is a perfect alternative to the plastic bags usually used at the shops which increase litter and are not environmentally friendly.
In addition information is being produced on vultures in general and the important role that these serene and noble raptors play in the eco-system – maintaining a disease-free environment. Vultures, because they eat together in large numbers are particularly important as they appear to be the only species in the world that may be completely immune to diseases such as Anthrax and Botulism (both diseases found in Namibia) and can consume an infected carcass within an hour, preventing this disease from spreading further.
Assisting Farmers – Predator ID
A laminated predator ID sheet has been developed to assist farmers and staff in identifying the predator responsible for preying on their livestock. This increase in correct information has allowed farmers to act ethically in determining their response and has begun to decrease poison use.
Assisting Farmers – Livestock Protection Collar Project
As a previous cattle rancher, the director was able to understand the needs of local farmers and develop a reusable laminated predator ID sheet to assist farmers and their staff in correctly identifying the predator responsible for preying on their livestock. This correct information has allowed farmers to act ethically in determining their response and has begun to decrease poison use and the indiscriminate elimination of innocent creatures that were previously mistargeted.
REST is involving local Namibians in efforts to develop poison alternative items to scare predators away from livestock. Specifically scent and noise collars, which are non-lethal but very effective as they make the predator unsure of its environment. Trials of noise and scent prototypes are currently underway. The plan is for a local self-help group to develop a small sustainable business producing these collars to sell at agricultural shows across Namibia.