Setting free the vultures
Conservationists celebrate largest single release of iconic scavengers.
A total of 35 captive-bred and rehabilitated vultures were allowed to fly free in South Africa in the largest release of its kind.
The group included 20 Cape vultures which were bred by the conservation organisation VulPro at its facilities in Hartbeespoort, in the North West province of South Africa.
"The absolute joy but also fear in releasing birds back into the wild where they face numerous threats and hardships but also their freedom is an absolute privelege and honour," says Kerri Wolter, who founded VulPro.
"I am so incredibly blessed to be able to work with these birds on a daily basis and to give many of them a second chance, and giving vulture populations the opportunity to survive by putting individuals back into the wild."
Prior to release, the birds were kept in a large enclosure on top of Magaliesberg Ridge, the highest point of Magaliesberg Mountains, for six months to acclimatise them to the conditions.
All the vultures were fitted with wing tags and a tracking device, and will be monitored following their release.
It is hoped that these birds will join the wild Cape vulture breeding colony nearby.
There are 23 extant vulture species around the world, 11 of which can be found in Africa. Over half of all the vulture species are listed as either Threatened, Endangered or Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List.