An increase in rehabilitation cases in December 2018 and January 2019 observed by NGO VulPro is a sign that an environmental disaster is looming, says the organisation that works to safeguard Africa's vulture populations.
"During the month of December 2018, 23 vultures were brought into VulPro for treatment for dehydration, starvation and calcium deficient injuries," founder and manager of VulPro Kerri Wolter said in a statement on Monday.
"Since then, the total number of 13 birds collected just within six days (more than two birds per day!) for the month of January indicates a huge disaster looming," she added.
Most of the birds were young fledglings.
"It feels as if the whole Magaliesberg fledgling population is presently being treated at VulPro!
"For our team, it has been physically exhausting and emotionally draining, requiring long hours on the roads to fetch grounded birds and many hours treating, rehydrating and feeding these birds 24 hours a day.
"This too has stretched our manpower resources, however, we have a responsibility internationally to safeguard African vultures and will continue to do so," Wolter insisted.
Vulture restaurants encouraged
The number of fledglings requiring assistance indicates a looming environmental collapse, according to the NGO, which cites lack of water and food as the prime cause for the collapse of these vulture populations.
"Many of these birds are being found in areas way out of their range, often in urban areas, or along the highways or even on busy national roads, extremely dehydrated and more than likely have been without food for up to 10 days.
"These birds seem totally disorientated and unless assisted will certainly die," she explained.
VulPro is appealing to members of the public to contact the organisation directly should they see or find birds that are grounded, disorientated or injured.
It has also urged animal lovers who can supply safe food to consider establishing "vulture restaurants" to help the fledglings and avoid a complete collapse of the populations. Vulture restaurants are sites that provide food for vultures mostly from cattle and pig farm mortalities.