Harriet Smith Photography


"For The Love of Africa"

AFRICAN SAFARIS - Trips Of A Lifetime

Nature's Undertakers

Botswana, Selinda Game Reserve, Selinda Tented Camp, straddling the Selinda Spillway linking the Okavango Delta and the Linyanti Swamps in northern Botswana. Nature’s undertakers: the African White-backed and hooded Vultures. Both vultures inhabit open savanna and wooded country with game animals and livestock, up to 10,000 feet above sea level. They range widely in Africa south of the Sahara Desert. Both vultures are scavengers, feeding on the soft muscle, organ tissue and bone fragments of large carcasses. With so many birds trying to feed, fights are inevitable, accompanied with grunts and goose-like hisses and cackles.


Natures Undertakers

Vultures can soar and circle for hours as they search for carrion, sometimes following grazers as they undertake their regular migrations. Their excellent eyesight enables them to spot food from high in the air; and they also keep an eye on other vultures, quickly following if they see another making a sudden descent. Up to 200 white-backed vultures can gather at a carcass.   The Hooded Vulture is generally the first to move into a carcass, but once the aggressive White-backed Vulture arrives, it is forced to wait on the sidelines until they have eaten their fill.  The Hooded Vulture arrives first solely due to its compact size. Vultures need thermals to gain altitude and so rise later in the morning than other birds; the smaller the vulture, the earlier it can rise and start scavenging.

Although they eat carrion, vultures are very hygienic birds and they often gather at  waterholes to bathe, preen and drink.
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