The vulture restaurant at HESC might be for some a difficult sight to absorb and odour to handle. However, this ‘pit of bones’ is very important from a conservation point of view. Many people may not be aware that most of the vulture species are endangered. And should nothing be done to try to save them, this could have a severe impact on the environment.
The vulture restaurant at HESC benefits the vultures in several ways. Firstly, by offering this safe feeding spot we try to reduce the number of vultures being poached. We take any leftover meat that isn’t fresh enough for the animals at the centre to consume, to the vulture restaurant to feed the vultures. Because of the vultures’ corrosive stomach acid, their system allows them to safely digest decaying carcasses infected with certain bacteria, which would otherwise be harmful to other carnivores.
The vulture restaurant also facilitates much needed research. HESC is part of an independent study called the Kruger to Canyons Hooded Vulture Project. Click here to read about this project.
Visitors to the centre may come across a few of the vulture species. The Hooded vulture, is one of the smallest vulture species and usually the last to feed on a carcass; the Cape and White-backed vulture, which are very similar in appearance; as well as the Lappet-face vulture, which is one of the biggest vulture species can be seen at the vulture restaurant. Although the latter rarely so. Other birds that can be seen among the vultures are the Marabou stalks and Yellow-billed kites.
So next time you drive past the vulture restaurant, do stop and take a look at these amazing birds that serve such a unique purpose in the wild. This area can also be a birders’ paradise on the right day and amazing shots of these birds in action can be captured.