Rehabilitated Vulture gets a new lease on life

Posted on Sat September 2, 2023.

In the throes of making history at Cango Wildlife Ranch, we prepare to release our first-ever rehabilitated Cape Vulture, and we can barely contain our excitement! We can think of no better way to celebrate Vulture Awareness Day, than to share this success-story-in-the-making, with you all.

VULTURE AWARENESS DAY – 2 September 2023


This incredible journey all began with a caring farmer in the Potberg Region, who came across a vulture with a compromised foot, on 25 July 2023. Discussions between the farmer, Cape Nature, and VULPRO (the leading experts in the care and conservation of African Vultures based in the Hartebeespoort region) regarding the treatment and care of the vulture took place, and the decision was made to contact us for assistance. Needless to say, a challenge we were thrilled and eager to undertake. Having housed vultures for many years, with our accreditations and premium standards of care, we were confident in this undertaking. Thus paired with our longstanding goodwill and association with VULPRO, meant that their invaluable expert guidance and assistance would always on hand when necessary.


Without hesitation, Cape Nature was en route to Oudtshoorn from Potberg with the vulture where Cango Wildlife Ranch then met them halfway to collect the vulture. Our vet, Dr Glen Carlisle was immediately consulted. The vulture had an enormous abscess on its compromised foot, and the necessary treatment was administered and X-Rays were taken in an attempt to identify if there was any bone structure damage. The vulture was then taken to our Care Centre where we provided daily antibiotic treatment, wound care and physiotherapy. The healing process was slow but steady.


Just a week later, on 31 July 2023, we received a call from VULPRO regarding another Cape Vulture. The vulture was observed stuck, hanging by its wing on a telephone pole. The injured vulture eventually fell to the ground and it was rescued and taken to Oakhurst Animal Clinic in Swellendam. He was given fluids, wound treatment and antibiotics. At VULPRO’s request once more Cango Wildlife Ranch’s buttons were pressed. We immediately mobilized our team who collected the Vulture, returned to Oudtshoorn and enlisted Dr Carlisle again.  X-rays were taken, and thankfully no fractures were observed. Doctor Carlisle provided antibiotics and pain medication, and then we took the bird ‘home’ and placed him in our Care Centre with the other vulture. Being a social species, it is advised to house them with other vultures, so this rescue turned out to be a blessing in disguise for both birds as they could socially support one another. It took a few days before his strength returned. Fluid was provided subcutaneously to prevent dehydration, and by day four, it was clear that his strength was returning. Miraculously, both birds healing journeys were so parallel, that we decided to move them to an aviary on our Private Reserve to provide more space, in a more natural setting. Once in the aviary, both birds grew stronger, daily. We placed a bush-cam on the vultures to monitor them, and just a few days, the vulture with the injured wing was flapping and flying from perch to perch.


The first Vulture is still receiving physiotherapy four times a week. An abscess of this size puts a lot of pressure on the automation of the foot, and there is always the possibility of infection spreading into the bone itself and toxins being released into the bloodstream. Thankfully, the abscess size has significantly reduced and motion is slowly but surely improving. Our most recent vet visit examined the foot once more due to one of the digits remaining swollen. More X-rays were taken and the results of which show either a fracture or osteomyelitis for which further treatment is going to be needed. This vulture is not yet eligible for release, instead, he will be taken to VULPRO in the coming week to better cater to his social needs where they will continue with the necessary treatment and care.


The second vulture is however eligible for release, which will be taking place in just a few days, in the region of the De Hoop Nature Reserve. We will be sure to share a video with you of the momentous occasion! What makes this all so incredible, is that there is in fact only one known vulture colony in the Western Cape. In our nearly 40 years of operation, this is the first time we have taken a vulture in for rehabilitation, and it occurred twice, in the span of one week!


At the upcoming release, we will be joined by Cape Nature, the farmers, and a VULPRO representative who will be fitting a tracker on the bird for further monitoring and research purposes. All in all, this is a truly amazing success story of a rehabilitation process at its finest, made possible by the collaboration and care of all parties involved; the farmer, Cape Nature, VULPRO, the veterinarians and Cango Wildlife Ranch. It just goes to show, together we can achieve so much more.


In closing, we would like extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Mr Matthias Duys a long-time adopter and member of our non-profit Cheetah Preservation Foundation. Mr Matthias Duys has generously covered all the medical expenses incurred during this rehabilitation process. To say we are grateful is an understatement. Thank you so much Matthias Duys.

Release video to follow in the coming week.