Commended Entry: "Cape Vultures" by Mitchell Kuhn from South Africa
This article was submitted in the Kids World Travel Guide Essay Competition 2020 in the Junior Category 8-11 years.
My favourite thing about my country, South Africa, is that there are so many animals that are not found anywhere else in the world.
One animal is the Cape Vulture, an endangered gigantic bird that I get to see very often because I live near a place trying to protect them. Endangered animals are animals that are in danger of going extinct because of poaching, over-hunting, and their homes are being destroyed. People are responding to this crisis by making projects that protect the animals and allow for them to breed freely.
In Oribi Gorge, there is one such project which has a vulture restaurant or place where vultures are fed and an educational project where visitors can come and see the vultures and learn more about them. The vulture restaurant was started in 2000 by a concerned farmer and only 20 Cape Vultures were recorded. Recent drone footage has shown that there are even more birds on the cliffs. The numbers have grown tremendously! It is estimated that over 200 birds live in Oribi Gorge now with about 75 new chicks a year. The vulture restaurant is set up near the nesting sites on the steep Oribi Gorge cliffs. Only one egg is laid a year. The restaurant has a large open area where the food is placed such as dead cows, pigs or horses. A pond of water is nearby for the vultures to clean themselves. A viewing hide means we can watch the vultures feeding. I have been there when a cow was left for them. It was wonderful seeing these huge birds swoop down and eat. It is very smelly though! Vultures can eat about 1kg of meat at a time and this will last them 3 days. There are other vulture restaurants in the country, and our Oribi Gorge colony is visited by vultures from other nearby colonies.
Projects like these are very important to help keep the numbers of the Cape Vultures up. Vultures are vital for our ecosystem. They clean up the environment by eating dead animals which help stop diseases like rabies and anthrax spreading.
I am so happy that people in South Africa are trying hard to protect these magnificent birds. It is a privilege to live so close to the Cape Vulture colony and see their numbers growing.
Thank you for the lovely essay, Mitchell. Your story was a pleasure to read! We loved your detailed information about this fascinating and endangered species. Well done and keep up the great work of creating awareness for this worthy cause!
Mitchell is home schooling in South Africa.
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