A vulture restaurant is an area where non-toxic, poison-free meat and carcasses are provided for vultures and other scavengers. This area must be free of human traffic and totally undisturbed. The supplementary feeding, such as an animal carcass, supports the vultures in times of food scarcity and when young birds fledge.
As well as providing a safe food source, vulture restaurants provide landowners with a clean and cost-effective way of disposing of waste and unwanted carcasses. Using vulture restaurants, Paardeplaats Nature Reserve is contributing to conservation efforts and disposing of their waste in an environmentally-friendly way.
Local farmers and landowners bordering Paardeplaats Nature Reserve have started donating domestic livestock that otherwise had to be buried or burnt and is that are unfit for human consumption. Carcasses that have been euthanized or treated with certain veterinary drugs or dips are poisonous to vultures and Brian and Gerda check the validity of the donated carcass for safe feeding.
The Whitehorns utilise their vulture restaurant to raise public awareness of the plight of the species’ as these restaurants play an important role in eco-tourism.
Vultures, positioned at the top of the food chain, are an indicator of the health of the environment below them – and dependent for their survival on a healthy environment.
They form an important ecological component of our natural environment, cleaning up dead carcasses and decreasing the spread of some diseases. Despite this, vultures face an unprecedented onslaught from human activities. They have to cope with the changing landscape of progress such as electrocutions and collisions with electrical structures as well poisonings, to name a few.
In order to ensure the future of these vultures, we need to work together, spread the word, and actively contribute to the conservation of our indigenous vulture species.