Declines in Old World vulture populations have been linked to anthropogenic pressures. To
assess these threats, the social dimensions of vulture conservation must be explored. Prior
research in Africa focused on commercial farmers’ perceptions of vultures and identified that
small stock farmers used poison more than large stock farmers to deter livestock predators.
However, the vulnerable Cape Vulture, Gyps coprotheres, breeds throughout communal
farmland in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Consequently, community interviews
were conducted within the vultures’ foraging range of the Msikaba Cape Vulture colony,
separating regions according to the amount of transformed land. Residents in the least
transformed land region perceived the smallest reductions in livestock ownership over the
past ten years. While residents of the moderately transformed region perceived the greatest
reductions in livestock ownership. Livestock carcasses were reported to be available for
vultures at ‘informal vulture restaurants’. Arrangement of livestock carcasses was found to be
independent of land use; however type of carcass consumed varied. None of the respondents
stated they used poison to eliminate livestock predators. More respondents cited illegal poaching of vultures for traditional medicine as a threat. Despite this pressure, the majority
stated that vultures benefited the community.
No University of Pretoria affiliation in this article.