Tuli Amakali is an African podcaster and software developer living in Windhoek, Namibia. His podcast, Conversations About Nothing, explores opinions, in-depth reviews as well as interviews with influential people around the globe. In his spare time, he also hosts a weekly pub quiz show, plays sports and spends time with those he loves.
The African White-Backed Vulture, also known as the white-rumped vulture, is a very gregarious bird in the same family as eagles, kites, buzzards and hawks. When searching for food it soars high above the ground and has been spotted at elevations as high as 10,000 feet. Once it finds a freshly killed animal it circles in the sky signaling to other vultures to come and eat often feeding on carrion in flocks of a hundred or more.*
These vultures play a vital role in disposing of harmful pathogens that may persist in animal carcasses.** Their unique immune systems allow them to be unaffected by many of the bacterias found in their meals.**
Vultures and other birds play a critical role in maintaining healthy ecosystems. Their decline can have serious effects on other species and the many benefits provided by nature. Africa’s vulture populations face the prospect of collapsing due to poachers poisoning the population. As the circling of vultures is often an indication of a recently deceased animal, poachers have been found to poison the carcasses of elephants in order to kill off vultures that may alert their illegal activities to authorities.***
**Ivory poachers and poison: drivers of Africa's declining vulture populations. Odega, Botha, and Shaw. 2015
***The first whole genome and transcriptome of the cinereous vulture reveals adaptation in the gastric and immune defense systems and possible convergent evolution between the Old and New World vultures. Chung et al. 2015
how can we help?
The first Saturday in September is International Vulture Awareness Day. The day not only raises awareness about vulture numbers, but it also educates the public about the importance of them to our ecosystem. For more information on International Vulture Awareness Day, please visit www.vultureday.org.
If you’d prefer to donate to specifically help the African white-backed vulture, please check out the The Peregrine Fund at www.peregrinefund.org.