They play a vital role in the lifecycle of the African savannah and they are the ultimate recycler! Did you know that in the Serengeti the total biomass of dead grazing animals is estimated to exceed 40 million tonnes per year. Just think what it would be like without the vulture and the other scavengers to clear up the mess! They may not be pretty but they are vital.
Vultures are big strong birds and can fly for some considerable distances for a meal; one Ruppell's vulture was recently recorded travelling north from its nest in Tanzania, across Kenya to a region in Sudan and Ethiopia! Meanwhile in South Africa Cape vultures were tracked following power lines and pylons to cover a straight-line distance of 620 miles.
Vultures survive their rather revolting diet by having strong stomach acid which can destroy bacteria, including cholera and anthrax, that would prove deadly to many other species. They also carry special antibodies to help them tackle botulism toxins so that even if the illness killed their prey, the vultures can eat it without negative effects. A truly fascinating creature!
There are many different kinds of vulture to be found in Africa including the African Hooded Vulture, the Cape Vulture, Ruppell's Vulture, and the White Backed Vulture.
This is a fantastic place for birdwatchers - please see our Blog for more details.