During my trip this year to Etosha I was hoping to capture some of the vultures interaction with other predators in the vast wilderness. I was not disappointed by what i saw in the field but photographically it was very challenging.
I did mange to witness 2 black back jackals ( canis mesomelas ) feeding on a fresh springbok carcass that was obviously a Cheetah kill from earlier that morning as the vultures had not yet started to congregate and sightings of Cheetah were recorded the days before in that general area . This image i captured was not the only highlight of this sighting………………………
One of the clues nature photographers use to find the site of a kill or dead animal is to scan the sky during the day and look for the tell tale thermals holding soaring vultures as they search for any meal . With the vast open spaces and large availability of water around I knew that finding any interaction near a water hole would be difficult . I concentrated early mornings on scanning low level shrubs and any ground activity and as it started to heat up , the signs of soaring vultures…….
It was just after 10 am this morning that we were on route back to camp when I noticed some movement at a hundred feet or so above the ground in the direction we were heading . When I arrived I saw approximately 15 or so etosha vulture hoping around and interacting with each other .
It was only then did I notice a further 30 yards away that there were two jackals feeding voraciously on something . I moved forward and saw what looked like the remains of a springbok . As if scripted , more vultures started to arrive from out of the blue and the tension started to rise with each new mouth………..As this Lappet Faced Vultures expressed.
Then it became obvious the Jackals were soon going to be out numbered by these awesome aerial scavengers top the remains of there prize and the interaction between the species started to escalate with the jackals attempting to protect there meal with quick and direct attacks as shown in the first image posted and in this one below………………..
Unquestionably , the highlight of this sighting for me was seeing and photographing my first tagged vulture amongst the commotion and confusion . I did not see this African White-backed Vulture in the original group of vulture’s on the ground so assume it had moved in during the time I was fixated in my viewfinder with all the interaction . I managed to get a clear view of the tag number by zooming in to the tag and it was E 111 and not F18 as it would seem 🙂
I contacted Endangered Wildlife Trust via there website and submitted the sighting information and received the following feedback.
Tag number: E 111 Tag colour: YELLOW
SAFRING number: G26092
Species: African White-backed Vulture Gyps africanus
DETAILS OF RINGING/TAGGING
Date: 5th of November 2008 Age: Pullus (Nestling) Sex: Unknown
Coordinates: 19.052850S 15.766520E Accuracy: Exact location
Locality: 5.6km South of Leeubron, Etosha National Park
DETAILS OF RE-SIGHTING
Date of Sighting/Recovery: 6th of June 2011 Time: 10h36 am
Coordinates: 19 ‘ 5’21.85 S 15’46’13.30 E Accuracy: Google Earth
Location: Etosha National Park – North West of Okaukuejo
Bird condition: Good Reason for death:
Additional comments from observer/s:
Feeding in large group on cheetah kill ( Springbok)
Elapsed time: 2yr 7mths 1 day Distance moved: 7km
So it was not an epic journey or amazing distance flown by this individual vulture but it was usefull to the program and I learned a great deal from the information on why the vulture remained close to “home” that was supplied by Andre Botha , Manager: Birds of Prey Programme and Co-Chair: IUCN SSC Vulture Specialist Group from the Endangered Wildlife Trust .
Thanks for sharing this experience with me through theses images and words. Please report all tagged or ring birds to the respective groups.Google is absolutely amazing as is demonstrated with the ease at which I found all the information on the tagging program. Keep shooting the light , one frame at a time
Peace and Light -AA