VulPro is a holistic, grass-roots, multi-faceted organization. Our efforts are focused on halting the decline of African vulture populations, using a multidisciplinary and adaptive management approach to conservation, including rescue, rehabilitation and release, ongoing education, community engagement, extensive research, & captive breeding for wild population supplementation.
Our mission statement is to be the leading vulture conservation organisation in Africa for advancing knowledge, awareness and innovation in the conservation of African vulture populations for the benefit and wellbeing of society. Vultures play a critical role in ecosystem stability and the maintenance of biodiversity, fulfilling a niche that is unmatched by any other scavenger. Vulture feeding behavior accelerates decomposition and the nutrient cycling process, having a direct and positive impact on biodiversity in an ecosystem. Through ridding the environment of decaying carcasses, the spread of disease from anthropogenic and natural landscapes is prevented. If left unchecked, these diseases could have catastrophic impacts.
Due to ever-reducing natural habitats, the indiscriminate use of poisons, escalating threats driven by human activities, and direct persecution and poaching, vulture populations have declined by more than 90% within the last three decades. The possible impact of a further vulture population decline is starkly highlighted by the effects seen in the Asian Vulture Crisis, which devastated animal and human populations alike. Africa is no exception – losing our vultures would result in a similar catastrophic economic and environmental collapse.
At VulPro we work towards saving Africa’s vultures through a combination of inter-linked conservation activities:
REHABILITATION & RELEASE VulPro collects injured vultures from all over South Africa, undertaking ground-breaking veterinary treatment and rehabilitation initiatives to give each vulture that comes into our care, a second chance and the best possible hope for survival and release.
RESEARCH & EDUCATION VulPro believes in addressing vulture conservation in an all-encompassing manner. We combine captive- and wild-population research; extensive surveys; threat identification and mitigation; as well as education, in an adaptive management approach with the aim of ensuring the highest possibility of success. We place immense focus on education and community engagement – which we view as essential to the conservation of a species. Our aim is to ensure that we contribute to the advancement of knowledge, skills and understanding within each individual we interact with.
CAPTIVE BREEDING FOR SUPPLEMENTATION OF WILD POPULATIONS With vulture numbers declining at a faster rate than natural populations can increase, VulPro’s captive breeding for supplementation of wild populations is essential in maintaining vulture population numbers.
VulPro’s efforts have led the way in ex-situ conservation breeding of African vulture species. We consult and train globally, ensuring a collaborative effort in order to advance breeding strategies and protocols.
VulPro targets a fully holistic approach to vulture conservation: VulPro began as a rehabilitation facility, recognizing that each individual bird carries significant importance for the continuation of the species. Rehabilitation continues to be one of VulPro’s key efforts, with all released individuals now contributing to research with coloured leg bands and/or tracking devices.
Non-releasable vultures that come into VulPro for rehabilitation form part of the ex-situ breeding population. This allows non-releasable vultures to positively contribute towards saving their wild counterparts by producing viable offspring which are released into the wild. This reinforces dwindling populations and will ultimately contribute to VulPro’s efforts in bringing vultures back into historical breeding sites where they have since become extinct.
VulPro monitors many of the released birds’ survival and foraging movements through GPS transmitters. The data provides a crucial understanding of movement patterns and behavior, including habitats of high use such as breeding and roosting sites. In addition to this, wild populations are monitored annually at breeding sites, and a resighting database is maintained through camera traps, photographs and public sightings.
All insights gathered feedback into our continuous investigative research, threat mitigation, and broader vulture conservation efforts with the aim to improve and optimise. VulPro regularly publishes protocols and scientific publications, further contributing to the knowledge base for the species' benefit.
VulPro focuses on wide-reaching public education, community engagement and direct local community involvement, with the aim to create awareness and entrench a mindset of conservation. We view this approach as a key aspect in the success of species conservation. In addition to this, our ongoing presence in the field has increased local landowner engagement, ultimately improving awareness of African vultures’ plight.
The interface between the in-situ and ex-situ facets within VulPro’s holistic, scientific conservation work is ground-breaking and showcases how each bird plays a role in saving wild populations. VulPro has released over 40 captive bred vultures into the wild, and over 450 rehabilitated vultures over the past 12 years. Our efforts have documented a 75% survival rate from our released rehabilitated vultures, with many success stories to tell. We continue to strive to improve our methods, with the aim to expand into other countries where vultures have become scarce or are no longer breed. Our broader goal is to ensure that vultures will not be forgotten, as it is significantly harder to reintroduce a species than to translocate individuals to supplement an in-situ population, however small it may be. For more information, and to see our direct impact on vulture conservation, please follow us on our social media platforms: