Kerri Volter is an ambassador for the vultures of the Magaliesberg. Her passion is undeniable.
Kerri asks the question "What would be the penalty if a poacher was convicted of killing 600 rhino in one go? We have just heard of someone who did just that - not rhino, but endangered vultures! Six hundred is more killed in one incident than all the rhino killed this year by poachers. And the Vultures are listed as endangered, not threatened".
Kerri's passion, her work and commitment have been recognised. The platform given to her work will help to bring awareness to the plight of these misunderstood birds.
The Prince William Award for Conservation in Africa, launched in autumn 2012 in partnership with global investment firm Investec Asset Management, attracted fifty nominations from across Africa. Kerri is on the shortlist of five to receive the award.
The shortlist of five conservationists nominated for The Tusk Conservation Award is as follows:
•Edwin Kinyanjui (Kenya)
•Kerri Wolter (South Africa)
•Alasdair Harris (Madagascar)
•Tom Lalampaa (Kenya)
•Josia Razafindramanana (Madagascar)
"The awards are a once in a lifetime experience! Vulpro is truly blessed and we'll keep fighting the fight for our vultures! Thanks to all of you for your support,"says Kerri.
Kerri Wolter established VolPro (Not for Profit) with her ambassador Vulture Percy, to spread the news of the plight of these endangered, and often misunderstood birds. Sadly Percy has concluded his work, and Kerri is now rearing a new ambassador Vulture.
The Magaliesberg Mountain Range is home to the fourth largest breeding population of Cape Vultures (Gyps coprotheres) which has been studied since the 1950s. There are three breeding sites on the southern slopes of the Magaliesberg, and these sites represent 12% of the wild Cape Vulture population.
Kerri says "During the 2012 breeding season, we have seen massive declines from the Skeerpoort and Robert's Farm colonies. The Robert's Farm colony, historically the largest breeding colony in Magaliesberg with over 500 breeding pairs at one stage, is now extinct as a breeding site, with no sign of roosting birds. The Skeerpoort colony has declined from some 300 breeding pairs to only 200 breeding pairs this year and only 50% of these breeding attempts being successful."
The decline of the Magaliesberg Cape Vultures is in the main due to poisonings, disturbance at breeding sites, collisions with aircraft, and electrocutions on power lines.
"We are seeing the evidence of declining fortunes of the Cape Vultures in the Magaliesberg associated with the expansion of urban areas and agricultural," says Kerri. She draws attention to the transformation and fragmentation around the Hartbeespoort Dam which is a short 3 kilometers from the Skeerpoort vulture colony.
"Expensive estates and informal settlements, golf courses and fragmented developments have transformed the natural habitat.
"VulPro has undertaken mitigation measures to protect the species and prevent further declines from the Magaliesberg. Our efforts include ongoing public awareness campaigns, efforts to mitigate power line threats, restriction of disturbance at colonies and feeding sites working with air-traffic and the general public. We are grateful for the support of conservation-minded private landowners on whose properties the colonies and feeding sites are located and for the establishment of artificial feeding sites.
"There is some legislative protection afforded by the Magaliesberg Protected Natural Environment which includes all three colonies. The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site is also important as is offers a large area suitable for foraging, and hosts two regularly provisioned artificial feeding sites.
"We also work on the recovery and rehabilitation of injured and poisoned vultures from areas surrounding the breeding cliffs", Kerri sums up.