A New Home for a Special Lady


In the southern hemisphere, the last remaining population of Bearded Vulture resides isolated in the high Maluti-Drakensberg mountains of Lesotho and South Africa. This African sub-species, (Gypaetus barbatus meridionalis), has in recent history suffered more than a 30% population decline and is listed regionally as endangered. There are estimated to be 100 breeding pairs and a total population of approximately 320 birds left in the wild.

The formal opening of a very special new enclosure took place recently at the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary, Ashburton, Pietermaritzburg. Guests and people involved in the project gathered to celebrate with, and for Leseli the Bearded Vulture, in her new home.

Shannon, who owns and runs the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary, explained how Leseli got to be in our midst. “The amazing Bearded Vulture female was admitted to Raptor Rescue Rehabilitation Centre some months ago. She had been seen in the high berg, held in what was effectively a small ‘goat-hok.’ Authorities confiscated her from a Sangoma (who had apparently held her illegally for about four years), and brought her to Raptor Rescue for specialized care.

The hope was to release her back into the wild. Unfortunately the bird seems to be far too tame for release and we suspect that she was held from the time she was a chick. She showed no inclination to fly and was therefore sadly deemed un-releaseable. She is the only Bearded Vulture held in captivity in the southern hemisphere and her wild counterparts are in dire straits.

We are happy to announce that our beautiful bearded lady is finally ensconced in her new home at the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary and will now be an ambassador  for her severely threatened wild counterparts. And she looks ‘gorgeous’ framed against her magnificent cliff face!”

The African Bird of Prey Sanctuary. Location S 29 40.551, E 030 30.752.
Opening Times: Wed to Sun 9am to 4pm. Showtimes: (weather permitting) 10h30am). Weekends and Holidays – 10h30am and 3pm.