cape vulture
Cape Vulture

The Drakensberg is home to the endangered bearded vulture as well as the cape vulture. The Giants Castle region of the Drakensberg offers a very special attraction of its the birdlife. Although you could be fortunate to see antelopes such as jackal, eland, bushbuck, oribi, mountain reedbuck and grey rhebuck; baboons and dassies too. But some of the special attractions of region though, are the rare bearded and Cape vultures.

The Giants Castle Vulture Hide is very popular and is best booked in advance. This secluded hide, built high on a ridge with a spectacuylar view looking out onto the Drakensberg gives you the feeling of being all alone. Through conservation agreement between Leopards Lair and the local farmers in the Lowlands area these vultures are fed from the animals that die in the area. This means that there are often vultures that are viewable and this is a spectacular opportunity to photograph them.

The bearded vulture has a very different appearance from other vultures and they can easily be mistaken for an eagle. They do not have the bare necks distinctive of other vultures. The adult bearded vulture has a dark back and wings with rufous underparts and a distinctive dark beard that contrasts with its white face. The juvenile bearded vulture is chocolate brown with golden underparts but also has the distinctive dark beard.

Though a scavenger, 70% of their diet is made up of bone and bone marrow. At a carcass they wait for the Cape vultures, ravens, crows and the jackals to reduce the carcass to a skeleton. Then they move in. They swallow the small bones whole; they are able to digest them. To get to the marrow in the larger bones, they fly up high with the bones in their talons and drop them from a great height onto large rocks to break them open. Their aim is quite accurate too. Though, when they have young to feed they do need meat as well