"Learn more about vultures than you though possible" Top 5 Page for this destination Hartbeespoort Things to Do Tip by CatherineReichardt
Hartbeespoort Things to Do: 40 reviews and 82 photos
In an area that has too many animal-focused tourist attractions that give little or nothing back to conservation, the Vulture Rehabilitation centre at Hartbeespoort is a notable (and welcome) exception.
The project aims to rehabilitate injured vultures and return them to the wild: if the animals are are not fit to fend for themselves, then they are rehomed with reputable organisations such as the Johannesburg Zoo.
Sadly there is a constant stream of injured vultures requiring rehabilitation. Historically a large proportion of vultures would have been injured as a result of encounters of too close a kind with electricity infrastructure. Happily this is a reducing threat as Eskom, the power supplier, is working actively with vulture conservationists to develop 'vulture friendly' pylons which are designed to prevent the birds electrocuting themselves by spanning the live wires with their wings on take off and landing. These days, most birds are admitted due to poisoning by farmers who still misguidedly believe that vultures predate on young livestock and refuse to understand the critical scavenging role that vultures play in keeping our ecosystem disease-free.
Vultures are brilliant birds and among my absolute favourites, particularly when it comes to observing their complex group dynamics. Each vulture species has its own specific role for which it is ergonomically designed: the lappet faced vultures use their massive beaks to tear through the skin and open up the carcass, the more generalist Cape vultures weigh in next and the smaller hooded vultures skulk around the fringes, using its smaller sharp beaks to excavate the hard-to-access scraps that their bigger cousins can't get to.
Thanks to a staggeringly robust digestive system whose resilence beggars belief, vultures are able to happily subsist on diseased carrion that would otherwise pose a threat to the health of other animals, thus removing this risk from the food chain - any animal that is immune to anthrax deserves serious respect!
Admission to the centre is by prior arrangement, unless a specific open day has been organised (watch the website for details on these excellent events).
Directions: See website for detailed directions
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