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VulPro Vulture Program
VulPro Vulture Program
VulPro Vulture Program
VulPro Vulture Program
VulPro Vulture Program
VulPro Vulture Program

Vulture Conservation and Rehabilitation

We aim to be the leading Vulture Conservation Programme for advancing knowledge, awareness and innovation in the conservation of African Vulture populations for the benefit and well-being of society.

African Vulture

Vulture Programme

Executive Summary

Vultures form an important ecological component of our natural environment, cleaning up dead carcasses and decreasing the spread of some diseases. The relationship between vultures and people is also a venerable one – vultures played roles in some early societies, including the Egyptian and the Hindu societies; vultures continue to be used as symbols or metaphors in modern societies; and vulture body parts are used in muthi.

Today, vultures face an unprecedented onslaught from human activities. They have to cope with electrocutions and collisions with electrical structures, poisonings, land-use changes, a decrease in food availability and exposure to toxicity through veterinary drugs, to list just a few of some of the challenges facing vultures today.

Vultures, positioned at the top of the food chain, are an indicator of the health of the environment below them – and dependent for their survival on a healthy environment. As such the work of the Vulture Conservation Programme (“VulPro”) work is intended and expected to impact on many other aspects of the environment – beyond vultures.

VulPro approaches vulture conservation in an integrated, multidisciplinary fashion, with the benefits from the programme accruing to both vultures and society at large. VulPro combines education and good science, with networking, capacity building and knowledge generation. The veterinary disciplines of toxicology, pharmacology, clinical pathology and medicine are combined with the science of cell-phone telemetry and the banking of genetic resources, with the goal being to positively influence the well-being of our natural resources to the ultimate benefit of society. In this regard, VulPro engages in a number of interrelated activities, and uses a variety of resources, in endeavouring to meet its objectives.

GPS tracking devises are used to determine foraging and home ranges of a large number of vultures in Southern Africa. The output from this research allows for the monitoring of capture-release free-ranging vultures and for the mapping of areas for further actions (such as community education and the safeguarding of vulture food through the monitoring of vulture restaurants).

VulPro conducts and facilitates educational talks and interaction with both tame and wild vultures at the rehabilitation and educational centre in Hartbeespoort, and regionally, through the follow-up of vulture home range and feeding studies.

Undertaking and publishing studies determining drug residues in carcasses, and lobbying communities and society for appropriate actions to be taken to benefit our natural environment and to ameliorate the effects of drugs on vultures are part of VulPro’s work. This work includes proactive efforts to determine, evaluate and monitor veterinary drugs or chemical residues in carcasses that are made available to vultures; building dedicated laboratory models for predicting avian toxicity; using mass awareness campaigns to involve and get feed-back from the public; determining the home ranges of vultures, so as to better understand their foraging habits; and collecting appropriate biological samples for current and future project use.

Through partners, such as the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Pretoria, potentially harmful veterinary substances similar to diclofenac, can be identified and monitored. Where necessary, VulPro can engage in or support lobbying for the removal or responsible use of these substances.

With the many threats vultures are facing throughout Southern Africa, vulture rehabilitation has become an essential part of the work of VulPro. Collecting grounded, injured, poisoned and disabled vultures around South Africa, special emphasis within the Gauteng, North West and Limpopo Provinces, VulPro is able to save many vultures that would otherwise have met untimely deaths. By doing this, VulPro is in a position to release those vultures that are fit and healthy and to keep in captivity those that cannot be released, for breeding, research and educational purposes. Vulture populations are in many instances so depleted that the rehabilitation and release of individual birds can be ecologically and genetically significant. At present, VulPro operates the only facility approved by Gauteng Nature Conservation and recognised by North West Nature Conservation for vulture rehabilitation.

VulPro Vulture Program
VulPro Vulture Program
VulPro Vulture Program

This multidisciplinary and networking programme looks at conservation holistically, by focusing on the vulture at the top of the food chain and gaining new knowledge on the environment below and so also impacting on society’s well-being.


  • Vulture rehabilitation

    Collect injured, grounded and disabled vultures

    On-going monitoring of released vultures using patagial tags and GSM/GPS devices

  • Distribution, dispersal and foraging ranges of vultures

  • Tracking of the Magaliesberg Cape Vultures using patagial tags and GSM/GPS devices

    Monitoring of vulture restaurants and recording vulture re-sightings i.e. patagial tags and photographs
    Tracking African White-backed and Cape Vultures which frequently visit Mankwe Nature Reserve, adjacent to Pilansberg
    Monitoring and tracking Cape Vultures from the Manoutse breeding colony near Kruger National Park
    Recording and keeping a database of all vulture re-sightings related to the B-series of patagial/wing tags
  • Cape Vulture breeding monitoring (four largest colonies globally):

  • Magaliesberg

  • Veterinary and ecological research related to vultures:

  • Researching the effects of lead and NSAID’s on vultures

    Surveying and studying vulture restaurants
    Researching the role vultures play in the spread of diseases
    Ongoing research related to providing veterinary treatment for vultures (i.e. for snake bites, poisonings etc.)
  • Cape Vulture breeding and reintroduction programme (Namibia)

  • Creating a safer environment for vultures in Namibia.

    Rebuilding the Cape Vulture population in Namibia.
    Monitoring the Cape Vulture population in Namibia as part of a national avian scavenger population monitoring programme.
    Providing an effective information, outreach, education and information sharing platform for vulture conservation as well as facilitating collaborative conservation support in Namibia and the region.
  • Vulture educational and awareness programmes

  • Holding talks and public displays

    Conducting workshops and training

Assisting with farmer/vulture conflicts

VulPro Vulture Program
VulPro Vulture Program
VulPro Vulture Program


 Kerri Wolter

Kerri has always been passionate about animals and the environment and much of her youth was spent horse riding and with her dogs. After school, she obtained a secretarial diploma following advice that this was ‘the right thing’, then continuing her studies for Business Computing and Marketing and Business Management (MBM) diplomas leading to work as an accounts analyst for Standard Bank and administrator in Sasol. In her own words, this was not really the direction she wanted to take but “her horse needed to eat”. Fortune though led her to meet Professor Gerhard Verdoorn, then Head of the Vulture Study, Raptor Conservation and Poison Working Groups of the Endangered Wildlife Trust where she was appointed manager of the Vulture Study Group. She remained for 2 years and then moved on in 2005 to manage the Vulture Unit at the De Wildt Cheetah & Wildlife Trust. The opportunity arose there for her to hand-raise her first vulture and her passion and dedication towards the cause of vultures took off in earnest. She left De Wildt at the end of 2006 to establish the Vulture Programme under the wing of the Rhino & Lion Wildlife Conservation NPO, now independent as VulPro. So now Kerri has been involved in vulture conservation for 9 years, and has no doubt that vulture conservation is her calling in life, and a cause to which she is wholly dedicated in heart and soul. Needless to say, however, her training in business computing and management in those earlier days is standing her in good stead now in her role as Founder/Manager of VulPro.


Walter Neser

Walter joined VulPro in September 2010, following his life long passion of working with vultures. This came about after meeting Kerri and assisting with the production of the video “Path into the Future” (see page 3 of the December 2010 issue of VulPro News). Walter was the pilot in the video and gave Kerri her first ‘vulture flight’.
Walter has worked on birds, especially birds of prey since 1986, starting at the Ornithology Department at the Transvaal Museum, Pretoria, tracking and studying Bat Hawks and researching their breeding biology. More recently, Walter has been carrying out field work concerned with environmental toxicology as it affects Halieatus species (Bald and Fish Eagles) for Michigan State and Clemson Universities in the USA. Walter is a skilled rock climber which enables him to work effectively on cliff and tree nesting species together with various researchers around the world, assisting with nest access for ringing chicks, collecting samples etc. If you ‘google’ Walter (definitely to be recommended) you will see his principal public face is as an ace paraglider and, as well as being paragliding instructor, test pilot and display performer, he puts this skill to good use in bird and animal surveys, one of the most cost effective and least disturbing way of doing this. Others of his many interests include photography, herpetology and horse riding. It has to be agreed, VulProRLWC News suggests, that Kerri is quite lucky…. 


Karen Kruger

Karen, volunteer and friend of VulPro, assisted us in obtaining and securing sponsorship from Eland Platinum for our new lapa facilities. Karen gives up her time freely to vulture conservation and puts her heart and soul into the welfare of all our birds at the Centre. She visits the Centre three times a week and helps with our bird enrichment, feeding and training programmes as well as watching over the Centre in Kerri’s absence. Karen has become a very important and integral part of VulProRLWC and is somebody whom we can trust and count on at a moment’s notice. VulProRLWC is extremely grateful to Karen for her support, passion, and dedication to vulture conservation. 




Orbert & Notice Phiri

Orbert Gayesi Phiri, top of the picture, has been with VULPRO since its inception in 2007. Orbert is passionate about animals taking on the responsibility of looking after all animals at the centre, training our new students each year and pri- mary caretaker on Kerri Wolter’s frequent absences. Orbert has a truly special way with animals and they respond amazingly well to him, sensing he a friend. He goes the extra mile to ensure the animals take first priority and have clean drinking and bathing water and sufficient food. Orbert is a tremendous asset to the Centre, a team player, friend and part of our expanding family. 

Seated is Notice Kampion Phiri started with VULPRO in June 2007 just as a temporary employee, helping during the holiday periods when Orbert was on leave. His outstanding performance, hard work and enthusiasm made him indispensible and he has become the centre’s permanent primary maintenance person as well as expert vulture capturer. Only bitten once on his lip, Notice is fearless and enormously strong, ever protective of the farm and all its inhabitants. His hard work, dedication and commitment to the centre is greatly treasured. As with Orbert, Notice is a friend and an important member of our family.






VulPro offers students and interested individuals the opportunity of volunteering at the Centre, where they get the opportunity and experience of working towards the protection of African vulture species and more specifically, southern Africa’s endemic Cape Vulture. The type of volunteer work offered at the Centre varies considerably according to the student and interest shown. However, most of the work is based at the Centre situated just outside of Hartbeespoort. Some of the more constant activities include:

  • carcass collection
  • cleaning of enclosures
  • vulture monitoring at vulture restaurants and at the Centre
  • general farm maintenance
  • educational programmes and tours around the Centre

We offer basic student accommodation and only very small groups i.e. 3 at any one given time. We ask a small fee of R800 per month for accommodation and the volunteer is responsible for paying for their own food and expenses over and above the small accommodation fee. 
Msc and Phd projects can also be discussed. 
For further information, please contact Kerri Wolter at:

VulPro Vulture Program
VulPro Vulture Program
VulPro Vulture Program

Visit our website for news, links and updates. 

Advancing Knowledge, Awareness and Innovation

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