Ford Wildlife Foundation Provides Mobility for VulPro African Vulture Conservation Project

Ford Wildlife Foundation (FWF) is providing VulPro with a Ford Ranger Double Cab 4×4 for two years to support its vulture rescue and rehabilitation efforts The loan vehicle will also assist the research project led by Caroline Hannweg as part of her PhD thesis on African White-backed vulture movements and breeding across Southern Africa FWF currently provides vehicles to 26 conservation, research and education projects across South Africa and one project in Mozambique

The Ford Wildlife Foundation (FWF) will be playing a vital role in supporting the protection of the African vulture from extinction by supporting VulPro – a vulture conservation, rescue, rehabilitation and research organisation that was launched in 2007.

FWF is assisting this project by providing a South African-built Ford Ranger Double Cab 4×4 to the organisation for a period of two years. This will give VulPro the much-needed mobility to implement its multidisciplinary approach of African vulture breeding surveys and ongoing rehabilitation of these endangered species, enabling the team to reach remote locations with confidence. “African vultures are a vital part of the ecosystem, yet they are threatened with extinction and their conservation is of extreme importance,” says VulPro’s Kerri Wolter.

“We use a multidisciplinary approach to conserving these species, with the emphasis on rescuing injured and compromised birds and transporting them back to our world-class rehabilitation facility. “Each year we rescue approximately 100 vultures from across South Africa, releasing approximately half of them back into the wild,” Hannweg says.

All birds that survive, but are non-releasable, are introduced into VulPro’s successful captive breeding programme where viable fledglings are released back into the wild to boost wild populations. Along with its rescue and rehabilitation efforts, VulPro started a breeding and tracking research project in 2015, which was further strengthened by PhD candidate and VulPro staff member, Caroline Hannweg’s current research project that began in 2022.

“My research project is focused on African White-backed vulture movement and breeding across Southern Africa in relation to climate change,” Hannweg says. Hannweg and her team have already been successful in fitting GPS tracking devices to several birds, which has helped expand the breeding monitoring of African white-backed vultures across the country.

“Our work takes us all over South Africa to remote locations and hard to reach places, all in the name of protecting these important species,” Wolter says. “The generous contribution from the Ford Wildlife Foundation of the Ford Ranger Double Cab 4×4 will help us continue our work in these sites, while safely transporting VulPro staff and volunteers so we can conduct our important field research. We are exceptionally grateful for this contribution from the FWF and can’t wait to get started in the field this season!”

The Ford Wildlife Foundation currently supports 26 projects across South Africa and one project in Mozambique. This comprises 16 conservation projects, six research projects and five environmental education projects. “We are delighted to add VulPro to the list of conservation and research projects that the Ford Wildlife Foundation supports,” says Lynda du Plessis, FWF Manager.

“The Ford Rangers we provide are an essential tool to help the conservation organisations protect threatened species and ensure the rich biodiversity of the region, while strengthening Ford’s commitment to caring for each other and the environment,” du Plessis says.

Vehicles are loaned to the partner organisations for a period of two years, with servicing and maintenance provided by the Ford dealer network.

For more information on Vulpro visit: 
Dudu Nxele, photos FORD