Angus Anthony, who has been doing vulture research for the past 31 years, recently spoke to athletes about the conservation efforts to save these birds of prey from extinction.
He spoke before the commencement of the annual Vulture Conservation Trail Run at the Dronfield Nature Reserve outside Kimberley. Athletes could enter the 16 km trail run or the 4,9 km fun run or walk. The event was hosted by the Kimberley Harriers Running Club.
Vital group of birds face extinction
Annually, the first Saturday in September is International Vulture Awareness Day.
Vultures are an ecologically vital group of birds that face a range of threats in many areas.
Populations of many species are under pressure and some species are facing extinction.
Anthony (74), an ornithologist, mostly works in the Beers’ Dronfield Nature Reserve. He is usually either up in the tree by the vulture nest X armored with thick long gloves against the thorns, or down on the ground ringing chicks or taking notes. Binoculars, camera with a long lens, GPS equipment and files full of information are within reach.
Angus Anthony, who has been doing vulture research for the past 31 years, talks about the importance of vultures in nature and conservation efforts to save them from extinction to athletes before the commencement of the annual Vulture Conservation Trail Run.
Vultures provide vital ecosystem services in natural, agricultural, and rural environments. The important role they play in the cycling of nutrients through the highly-efficient disposal of organic waste from the environment is of utmost importance to human health and environmental integrity.
The threats include intentional and unintentional poisoning by farmers and poachers, lead poisoning when they feed on carcasses shot with lead ammunition and ingest lead particles, collisions with structures, electrical shocks on pylons, drowning in farm dams, destruction of habitat and food sources, climate change, the muti-trade and other human activities.
Anthony asked that the athletes breathe in the fresh air and look up into the sky. Vultures are known for their excellent eyesight with which they can spot carcasses from above several kilometers in the field.
His more than 30 years worth of research on white-backed vultures, which earned him an honorary medal from BirdLife South Africa last year, is a self-imposed vocation.
Making a donation to Angus Anthony, who is doing vulture research, are committee member of the Kimberley Harriers Running Club Gavin Petersen (left), and Fatima Ajimudin, deputy chairperson of the club.
This year he also inspected nest trees in Benfontein, south of Kimberley, Samaria on the east side, Inglewood in the north and the Waterkolk section of the Rooipoort game farm, 60 km south of Kimberley.
Of the 280 vulture nests he viewed this year, 200 were active.
“It is pleasing that the number of active breeding pairs and nests in the area has grown over the past five years. We would like to determine the reasons for that with our research,” he says.