Part 1: Permit Number One!
After being delayed an extra week by permit complications, our #Bred4theWild team of climbers, drivers, and harvesting specialists are off to Lesotho on Sunday! So, with “permit no. 1” in hand, we will be attempting our first official extraction of the critically endangered Bearded Vultures from Lesotho this season!
If all goes according to plan, the team will be collecting a precious cargo of two Bearded Vulture eggs. This requires accessing of two nests and harvesting a second egg from each. Once hatched and raised, these chicks will be integrated into the Bearded Vulture Breeding Program. The captive group of bearded vultures for the #Bred4theWild program are based at the African Raptor Centre near Pietermaritzburg, where they will be reared for conservation breeding and ultimately release.
Although the weather conditions do not seem to be playing ball completely, it is the last opportunity this year to harvest from the high mountain Lesotho nests. The incubation period is 54 days for Bearded vultures, and it is critical our team gets to the nest just before hatching occurs. If we arrive too early the embryo is fragile, making the egg significantly harder to transport. Arrive too late and both the chicks will have hatched. This is when the older chick will outcompete and kill the younger one which we are hoping to save.
Tomorrow the harvest team leaves the Raptor Centre and will negotiate the snowy pass up to the Sani Mountain Lodge. The lodge has very kindly provided us with a safe bed and base to work from once in Lesotho.
Although its been a tricky month of organizing and navigating a seemingly endless list of challenges, the team is looking forward to finally being able to get into the field and hopes to bring back with us the good news of two healthy eggs!
So begins our first harvesting trip of 2018! The times ahead are challenging but exciting, we will be in contact with you via our blog and social media, and will report in once we’ve reached the top of Sani Pass!