“Bearded Vultures are critically endangered with approximately 330 left in Southern Africa and only 3000 Cape Vultures,” says Sonja Krueger of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. “These extremely low numbers are mainly as a result of a lack of suitable habitat and food, as well as significant impacts through poisonings and collisions or electrocutions with powerlines,”It is for this reason that the N3 Toll Concession (N3TC) has donated funds to construct a hide at Cathedral Peak in the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, a world heritage site in KwaZulu Natal. By constructing a hide and a feeding site in this Park, it is hoped that the vulture populations of the area will have a much more stable source of food.
The hide is a collaboration between the N3TC, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and Wildlands Conservation Trust and is one of three which are to be built within the Drakensberg area. Designed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s Glenn Harboth and built by Lawrie Raubenheimer (Heritage Design and Creations cc), this hide has been modelled on the local rocks and blends beautifully into its surrounds.
The N3TC has a 30 year contract to manage and maintain the N3 highway and, as a result, they bring a large number of people into the area. “It is important for us to leave a legacy behind when we one day step out of this area,” said Neil Tolmie, CEO of N3TC. “It was for this reason that we agreed to support the conservation of the Bearded and other vultures within the area three years ago. We look forward to building on our relationship with Wildlands and KZN Wildlife in the years to come.”
The hide will be able to accommodate a number of visitors at a time and is fitted with rain water harvesting tanks and full ablutions. “This is an amazing project which will not only create an additional feeding site for these endangered birds, but also much needed awareness amongst the public, allowing them the privilege of spending time close to the action of feeding vultures,” said Kevin McCann, Strategic Manager of Wildlands. “Without the incredible support of the N3TC and passion of the staff at KZN Wildlife, this project would not have been possible,” McCann concluded.