White-backed Vulture Rescued and Released at Olerai Conservancy, Kisaju area, Kajiado County
On 21st October 2020, an inactive, adult pale morph White-backed Vulture (WBV) was spotted at Olerai Conservancy by our team of Bird Scouts and the Scout Coordinator. This team is employed by Kipeto Energy PLC (KEP) to enhance conservation of WBV colonies around Olerai. The incident was reported to the Kipeto Ornithologists and with the help of Nature Kenya Vulture Liaison officer, Ms Fridah Kalekye, the raptor was rescued and delivered to our raptor holding facility located on our Kipeto Project Site. First aid (giving fluids) was administered with instructions from Simon Thomsett of Kenya Bird of Prey Trust (KBoPT). The Vulture spent the night in a box fitted at KEP raptor holding facility.
On 22nd October 2020, with authorization from the Kipeto General Manager, Ornithologists transported the Vulture to Kilimandege Bird Rehabilitation Centre in Naivasha for diagnosis and possible treatment. With several stop overs to check on Vulture health status, the journey took about 5 hours from Kipeto to Kilimandege. Upon arrival the bird started vomiting some substance that looked like compacted meat with fur. KBoPT team administered some glucose mixed with water for energy and rehydration.
White-black Vulture Recuperating Journey
At Kilimandege, the bird was diagnosed with a “sour crop” which is a yeast infection of the crop that is caused by bacteria. This infection occurs when a bird’s crop fails to empty completely or empties slowly causing the food to remain stuck in the crop. The bacteria disrupt the normal bacterial flora of the crop causing further digestion problems.
After two weeks of treatment and observation at Kilimandege, the Vulture was given clean bill of health by KBoPT team. Plans for its release were initiated and this involved checking its muscles strength and ability to fly. A GPS GSM tracker was fitted at the back to help track its movement and general behaviour after release. A ring was also placed on its tarsus to aid identification whenever spotted.
On 7th November 2020, the WBV was transported back to Olerai Conservancy where it was released. This was done in the same area where it was rescued. After release, the raptor perched on Acacia tree for about 15 minutes then flew more than 2000m from the ground. This indicated that the bird had regained its strength and could navigate without any difficulties.
On 9th November 2020 the satellite tracker fitted on the back of the WBV showed that the bird had travelled 115km to Sultan Hamud, in Makueni County Kenya.
This is a success story that we all managed to give the Vulture a second chance to live.
KEP would sincerely like to thank all persons involved in the rescue, rehabilitation, and successful release of the White backed Vulture.