What's the Problem

Africa’s largest and arguably most powerful vulture, the Lappet-faced Vulture, can drive away other predators such as jackals and other vultures easily from a carcass. Despite their power and size, Lappet-faced Vultures are listed as Endangered by the IUCN. In the stronghold of Kruger National Park in South Africa, one of their key breeding populations is in decline. The nesting trees selected by this large vulture are often surprisingly small (< 5m/16’) compared to other vulture species, and often face an unusual threat: being pushed over by passing elephants. Although the reasons are currently unknown, elephants do appear sometimes to target Lappet-faced Vulture nest trees specifically and push them over without browsing them. The impact of elephants on nest trees for these vultures is increasing pressure on their population in Kruger by reducing vital locations for them to breed. This is at a time when every chick is vital, especially as territories can be over a hundred square kilometres in size and contain only a few appropriate nesting trees; plus they only raise one chick a year!

Our Project

The project began in 2022 and we are working with South African National Parks and our Africa Project Officer, Andre Botha from the Endangered Wildlife Trust, to achieve the following objectives:

Project Outcomes

The overall goal of this project is to protect and maintain the nest trees of this Endangered vulture, by finding ways of reducing or preventing elephant impact. Our longer term goal is assisting the breeding population of Lappet-faced Vultures in Kruger to stabilise and then increase. In the medium term, this project will contribute information and valuable results to Kruger National Park’s ongoing Elephant Management Plan.

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