Karoo Vulture Safe Zone
Karoo farmers and other landowners have partnered with the South African National Parks, the Mountain Zebra Camdeboo Protected Environment (MZCPE), Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and the SANParks Honorary Rangers to create a Vulture Safe Zone (VSZ) in the Great Karoo. The Karoo VSZ spans across approximately 23,000 square kilometres in and around three major protected areas: namely the Karoo, Camdeboo and Mountain Zebra National Parks as well as the MZCPE. Over ninety percent of this area is privately owned. The long-term goal is to encourage Cape Vultures back to their historical ranges throughout the Great Karoo and ultimately recover this population through the establishment of a VSZ that links key protected areas. During the first phase, the project team will conduct an assessment of current threats in co-operation with over 400 farmers, game breeders and private reserves in the area. Working actively with committed landowners, the threats will be addressed in the second phase. The Karoo VSZ Initiative can be regarded as one of the largest conservation initiatives where farmers partner with conservation organisations like SANParks, SANParks Honorary Rangers, EWT and the ZCPE.
Historically vultures ranged throughout much of South Africa. Today, populations have dwindled by up to 80% in some areas, including the central Karoo. This is particularly evident for the Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres) which was formally widespread across the Karoo but is currently listed as Endangered both regionally and globally. Major threats include habitat loss, decreasing food supply, electrocutions, and collisions with powerlines and, most predominantly, poisoning (indirect and direct).
The United Nations Environment Programme has developed a global Multi-species Action Plan (MsAP) for the conservation of Africa and Eurasia’s vultures. This involves creating Vulture Safe Zones (VSZs) across strategic sites in South Africa.
Within these zones, the aim is to manage large tracts of land as safe spaces for vultures and other wildlife. This will help to stabilise existing vulture populations and, more importantly, to encourage vultures to return to their traditional home ranges and breeding sites. VSZs could also function as release sites for captive-bred birds and provide benefits for many other non-vulture species.
International Vulture Awareness Day falls on the first Saturday of September every year.
Please visit https://www.givengain.com/cc/karoo-vulture-safe-zone/ to contribute to this worthy cause.