IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Vultures need love too (before they vanish)

They aren't cute or cuddly, and instinctively I picture them picking away at the carcass of a zebra or a dead outlaw. Still, according to AP, vultures are in need of help. Conservationists in South Africa are trying to show the public what they love and admire about these endangered birds in order to try to save them.To ensure as many successful vulture hatchings as possible, conservationists
Researcher Walter Neser squats down with Cape vultures at the Vulture Program.
Researcher Walter Neser squats down with Cape vultures at the Vulture Program.Denis Farrell / AP
An artificially hatched chick is cared for by its parent at the Vulture Program at Boekenhoutskloof, South Africa.Denis Farrell / AP

They aren't cute or cuddly, and instinctively I picture them picking away at the carcass of a zebra or a dead outlaw. Still, according to AP, vultures are in need of help. Conservationists in South Africa are trying to show the public what they love and admire about these endangered birds in order to try to save them.

Researcher Kerri Wolter (unseen) hatches a Cape vulture's egg at the Vulture Program.Denis Farrell / AP

To ensure as many successful vulture hatchings as possible, conservationists remove vulture eggs from breeding adult pairs soon after they are laid and replace them with wooden dummies. Then they spend hours painstakingly chipping away at the shells and use a syringe to dampen the feathers of the emerging chick with a solution resembling a mother bird's saliva. (In the wild, when overeager parents hatch their chicks too fast, the chicks can die of shock.)

Researcher Walter Neser squats down with Cape vultures at the Vulture Program.Denis Farrell / AP

In addition to welcoming visitors to their conservancy, where reservations are required, the conservationists travel to schools to talk about the birds. They stress that vultures are very important to nature's balance, because they clean up carcasses before they attract flies, feral dogs, rats and mice, thereby checking the spread of diseases like anthrax.

 

A pair of Cape vultures.Denis Farrell / AP