Where Endangered Vultures Go for a Healthy, Rotting Meal – Facts So Romantic

A young, captive Cape vultureChelsea Biondolillo

The sun is hot and high over Hartbeetspoort, South Africa, the air thick with humidity and flies. On the dirt in front of us are the remains of three cows. Bridgette Kahill asks, “Ready to get your hands dirty?”

Her fellow volunteer Nobuhle Thelma Mabhikwa nods.

They work together at VulPro, a non-profit vulture-rehabilitation center. VulPro cares for sick and injured birds, and offers safe food for wild and released birds at their “vulture restaurant.” The restaurant serves carcasses of large animals that have been donated by nearby farms. Every few days, the volunteers clean up what the birds have not eaten and bring new carcasses to the restaurant.

On this particular day, the wild birds aren’t very hungry, and they leave a lot of heavy, pungent meat on the bones. The volunteers’ job is to break the cows down into small enough pieces to cart across the field to a pit where the remains will be burned. They tug and twist at the bones, but even mostly stripped cow carcasses can weigh hundreds of pounds. They use knives to saw through the tough hides.

Another volunteer comes by with her small pickup truck outfitted…
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