Conservationists urge public to learn to love vultures
One of the biggest draws of trips to Africa for many is the continent's abundance of fascinating wildlife.
Typically, those on African overland trips will be eager to see lions, rhino, elephants and many of the other rare and majestic species that inhabit the reserves and national parks of countries such as South Africa, Namibia and others.
However, one animal that they should not overlook is the vulture, which is also a fascinating species in its own right, but perhaps does not benefit from the same glamorous reputation as some of the other African wildlife.
Now, two conservationists in South Africa are trying to show the local public as well as visitors to the region why these increasingly rare birds are so interesting in order to try to save them, reports the Associated Press.
Kerri Wolter and partner Walter Neser run the Vulture Programme, where visitors can come and see Cape vultures at a 25-acre plot with spectacular views of the Magaliesberg Mountains near Johannesburg.
They hope this will help the public see a different side to the birds - as loyal mates, devoted parents and resourceful foragers.
In addition, seeing the Cape vulture up close, with its eight-and-a-half-foot wingspan and creamy feathers, will help people see what a truly spectacular animal it really is.
"No one's going to try to save a species if they don't love them," Ms Wolter told the news provider.
The Cape vulture is southern Africa's only native vulture and South Africa has the largest population with about 2,400 breeding pairs.
But their habitats are threatened by human encroachment and in neighbouring Namibia the bird is listed as critically endangered with only about a dozen wild breeding pairs left.
Because vultures generate less interest among the public, their plight does not receive the same attention as other endangered species.
Mr Neser explained that the future for vultures is not "really a very pretty or optimistic picture" unless perception of the birds can be changed.
"The idea is to try and make a difference for as long as you can, and not give up," added Ms Wolter.