Endangered Bird of Prey Thriving in South Africa's Great Karoo

Endangered Bird of Prey Thriving in South Africa’s Great Karoo Region

Ten Cape Vultures sighted at Samara Private Game Reserve near Graaff-Reinet

In what has been hailed as a significant conservation success, ten Cape Vultures (also known as Cape Griffons) were spotted in the Samara Private Game Reserve. These magnificent birds of prey are classified by the IUCN as Endangered, with fewer than 10 000 remaining worldwide. 

According to the late Dr André Boshoff, a renowned expert in raptor ecology, there is evidence that before European settlement, thousands of Cape Vultures migrated westwards from their breeding sites in the Eastern Cape and Lesotho to make the most of the plains game that was attracted by the increased food supply after the Karoo's summer rains.

Notably, one of the mountains on Samara is called ‘Aasvoelberg’ - Afrikaans for ‘Vulture Mountain’. In winter, the Cape Vultures would return to their breeding sites in the east.

Research has shown that mortality resulting from a range of human activities then substantially reduced these numbers by the turn of the 20th century. Lone birds had occasionally been spotted in the Graaff-Reinet area, and Samara had been witness to sightings of individual Cape Vultures three times over the past several years.

Samara, a 70 000 acre restoration project, was established in 1997. Eleven overgrazed livestock farms were purchased, internal fencing was torn down and the land was allowed to rest. Over the years, indigenous wildlife was slowly reintroduced, from the first wild cheetah back in the region in 125 years to the desert adapted subspecies of the Critically Endangered black rhino.

For more information, visit www.samara.co.za