Cape Griffon Vulture Research
The bulk of the remaining Cape Griffon vulture population (some 5,000-to-7,000 individuals) is mainly found in South Africa. REST has teamed up with the De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Trust to focus on the reintroduction of the Cape Griffon vulture back into its Namibian range. This is the first time that such an introduction has been tried in Southern Africa. To date, 16 birds that were admitted to De Wildt for minor rehabilitation and subsequently deemed 100 percent fit for release were flown to REST in 2004. These birds were held at REST in a release aviary for over a year to acclimate them. Three of the birds were captive bred but were kept with the wild releasable birds for behavioral socialization. The birds were held in the same location as the feeding site to form bonds with the wild birds in the area. This feeding site faces the Waterberg cliffs, the only suitable natural habitat for the vultures in the area.
On 23 October 2005, 14 of the De Wildt vultures were released back into the wild. All the birds were ringed and two were fitted with the satellite tracking device. Unfortunately, within the first month two of the birds were recovered dead. One had drowned in a farm reservoir. After a full autopsy it was suspected that the second bird’s healed wing (it had been broken) was not strong enough for full flight. The remaining birds with satellite telemetry are doing well and those with just bands are occasionally being spotted around the country.