High overhead the vultures circle, spiralling out of the blue towards the Victoria Falls Hotel. They are waiting for 1pm, when a feast of meat scraps and bones is put out for them – and you can watch this avian fly-past every day from the hotel’s Buffalo Bar viewing decks.
The Vulture Culture Experience is part of Africa Albida’s Green Steps to Sustainable Tourism initiative, a conservation project run by the hotel’s owners to protect these endangered birds and educate visitors about the vital role they play in maintaining the balance of the natural world.
Vultures are nature’s sanitation squad. By gobbling up dead animals they keep the environment clean and disease free. A single bird can eat up to 1kg of meat at a sitting and a flock can dispose of an entire carcass in hours.
Whatever you think of their unsavoury feeding habits, flight transforms vultures into creatures of matchless soaring grace.
Species you may see at the Vulture Culture Experience include whiteheaded, hooded, lappetfaced, Cape and whitebacked vultures.
These birds face manmade changes that threaten their existence. Many die in collisions with electrical structures. Others perish as a result of land-use changes and exposure to toxins, while one poisoned carcass put out to get rid of lions or hyenas can kill more than a hundred birds at a time.
The feeding programme aids their survival without creating dependence and allows vulture numbers to be monitored.
Visitors can also participate. If you spot a vulture with wing tags, note the species and the colour of the tag and pass the information to the activities desk at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge.
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