The Raptor is what YOU make it so please do keep sending all the sightings and information through.
In line with current eco-trends and aiming for a 'greener' lifestyle this is an e-newsletter - it does not conform to traditional page sizes and is not designed to be printed.
White-backed Vulture Breeding on RV - Derek Solomon, RV254
We were excited to learn of the discovery of a nest site of a White-backed Vulture discovered by resident Johan de Villiers in the wildlife area of the estate. We took a few reference shots from distance so as not to disturb the bird. This is most important because of the current crisis with vultures worldwide and we request residents not to go too close to the nest site they find it.
South Africa is home to eight Vulture species - White backed, White-headed, Lappet-faced, Hooded, Cape, Bearded, Palmnut and Egyptian which is now listed as 'regionally extinct'.
Vultures in southern Africa are seriously affected by a host of human related issues including electrocutions and collisions with electrical structures, poisoning, land-use changes, a decrease in food availability and exposure to toxicity through veterinary drugs. The latest and perhaps greatest threat is the controversial wind farming projects that have been approved for the Lesotho highlands. KwaZulu Natal ecologists predict that if the plans go ahead, the Bearded Vulture may soon disappear from southern African skies forever.
Electrocution on poorly designed power poles and collisions with electrical cables is a serious threat to many large raptors. With the ever-expanding energy network across both Lesotho and South Africa, the continuing threat of electrocution and fatal collisions will only increase. Vultures are particularly at risk of electrocution due to their large wingspan, which can easily bridge the horizontal distance between phase-to-earth components. The gregarious nature of vultures and their habit of roosting together lends it to multiple electrocutions.
Poisoning accounted for the death of over 1440 of our vultures in southern Africa last year. This is done directly to obtain their body parts which are used in traditional medicine, or indirectly through irresponsible agricultural poisoning or lead ingestion. The use of vulture body parts is believed to be most effective for enabling psychic abilities, foresight and increased intelligence. Other reported uses of vultures includes their bones during circumcision ceremonies, their talons to treat fever, their feathers for decoration, and their beaks for protection.
It is also becoming common practice in parts of the continent to eradicate vulture populations deliberately, as poachers believe that the site of large flocks of birds circling will alert rangers to a freshly slaughtered carcass, especially in remote regions and big parks.
In a report published in the scientific journal, Conservation Letters, scientists from across Africa, Europe and North America have published the first estimates of decline rates in African vultures on the continent. Their findings show that many national parks and game reserves appear to offer little effective protection to vulture species in Africa.
The Endangered Wildlife Trust Farmers guide to vultures: Vultures-Farmers.pdf is a publication well worth downloading.
Wild Dogs, Kudu and Waterbuck Drama - Rob Severin, RV240
On the early morning school run in mid-May we were treated to most dramatic start to the day at Osprey Dam! Five wild dog had chased a young kudu into the dam and they encircled the dam whilst the kudu was nervously undecided on the best course of action. A large waterbuck male stood on the little island watching all the commotion and then got out the dam on the western edge.
The kudu swam to the island and then also dashed across to the western side in the hopes of escaping - and it looked like she may make it when the dogs caught her as she reached the bank. The kudu screamed as the dogs attacked and then in the most dramatic display of heroism the waterbuck leapt into the fray - one must presume in aid of the kudu. Unfortunately the waterbuck fatally collided with the kudu who then sank below the water's surface.
The dogs looked bemused at the loss of their prey whilst the waterbuck watched over the scene. This has to be one of the best reasons for getting the kids to school late!
Sounds of the Bush - Derek Solomon, RV254
Early Morning Sounds
Last week many residents were treated to some great early morning sounds.
A Pearl-spotted Owl was calling our side of the fence and then the lions joined in from some distance away (calling from neighboring Khaya Ndlovu); followed by a Black-backed Jackal adding its voice to the serenade before the sun got up.
New Website and Content for The Raptor
Our website is undergoing a major re-write and overhaul and we urgently need high quality photos - of mountain views, scenery, houses and images that show the Raptor's View lifestyle - so please send through any images (to the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org) that you feel maybe suitable. With that in mind, would any residents who object to their houses being shown on the website let us know.
We're, once again, struggling for content for The Raptor - it is impossible to produce without the support from residents so if you would like the newsletter to continue please send through short notes, photos etc.
Small Orange Tip
Derek Solomon, RV254
Spider Hunting Wasp - Jan Neveling, RV29
Thirsty Leopard Tortoise - Jackie Preston, RV288
Birthday Wishes to RV's Oldest Resident!
Grace Schoeman - Hilda Cavill Taylor's mother (and Anthony and Stuart's grandmother) turned 92 on 7 June 2015. She has been living on Raptor's View since 2006 and is doing well after a hip replacement in February this year.
She keeps busy on her iPad bought some years ago - we wish her well and hope to be extending birthday wishes for many more years to come. A 100th birthday party on Raptor's View would be cause for celebration!