Why our Winery Cares about African Vultures
Here at Island Grove Wine Company Formosa Gardens we take philanthropy, helping our community, and the environment seriously. After all, in times like these it can only feel good and do good to stand up for the little guys; even if they're as wrinkly and scrappy as a literal vulture.... and that's why we are hosting a fundraising event for vultures alongside our friend's at Vulpro called Sprinkles for Wrinkles! It can seem like something is wrong with everything these days... so what's wrong with vultures, why do we care, and why should you?
Let's get to it then.
What is Threatening the Loss of Africa's Vultures?
My first guess was climate change but if we know anything from growing up watching the Discovery Channel it's a safe bet to assume that when an animal in Africa is suddenly on the decline poachers are probably somehow involved; and after some research I was right - but I also found that there is more to it than that.
Here's what I learned:
- Poachers have been deliberately contaminating the carcasses of elephants and rhinos with poisons specifically to kill vultures; and since vultures hunt in flocks one poisoned elephant can kill hundreds of vultures, even wiping out an entire colony. Harsh.
*(The proper term used to describe a gathering of vultures is actually a kettle - not a flock - and when eating together the kettle is called a wake ... which is quite morbid if you think about it.)*
- Awful as that may be, power lines are honestly mostly to blame. Electrocution and collisions into them are notoriously taking out these massive birds. Especially since many of the power lines in South Africa and unsafe / out of date.
- Lastly and most astonishingly, the brains, eyes, and feet of vultures are coveted goods for people practicing superstitious beliefs and are thus sought after whenever someone is itching for their favorite sports team to win etc. We might widen our eyes at that one a bit but if Anthropologie 101 in College taught me anything about viewing other cultures it was to simply "observe and analyze - do not judge" - granted I think I may have dropped that class due to it's highly graphic tendencies.
Is there ANY Good News? - YES and that Good News Comes in the Shape of One Word: VULPRO
Vulpro is an organization dedicated to the conservation and research of African vultures. When vulture's can't be released back into the wild for whatever reason, they breed them and release the healthy offspring to boost the population. The birds are GPS tracked and the colonies are monitored. The data helps to keep tabs on any anthropomorphic changes in the vulture’s environment; which enables our good friends over at Vulpro with any knowledge of threats in the area and allows them to take action to mitigate any harm.
But ... Why do We NEED Vultures?
More Than a "Pest"...
We get it. They're not cute; even the great naturalist Charles Darwin thought these creatures were "disgusting", but they are necessary. It's hard to believe that this doesn't go without saying but yea, ALL animals play a role in our ecosystem. Vultures just happen to do the dirty work of cleaning up after death - helping to keep our Earth healthy and ultimately prevent the spread of disease. These scavenged leftovers are often infected with anthrax, botulinum toxins and rabies, that would otherwise kill other animals.
What Can YOU Do To Help?
For starters - come to our fundraising event Sprinkles for Wrinkles where we have teamed up with Vulpro to raise money and awareness. You can also head on over to their website and get involved directly through them by donating or volunteering. Oh, and don't forget the importance of word of mouth. There's a reason you probably didn't know vultures were even in danger - people simply aren't talking about it! You can help us change that.
As always remember to like, comment and share - and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram at @formosawinery and @formosawineryweddings.
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