Friday, 11 May 2007

Nekhbet Preserve Us

Exhibit 'A' is Gyps Coprotheres, otherwise more fortunately known as the Cape Griffon Vulture.

I say more fortunately because if you know your Greek, you'll know that this magnificent fellow has been dubbed a beast of shit. Not very nice, now is it?

In common with Anne's Golden Purifier, this large (wingspan 2.55m!) bird, descendent of a hawk (as opposed to N and S American vultures, which are evolved from storks), is really good for us - the dominant species on this planet - in a measurable, material way.

You see, they are immune to both anthrax and botulism, two potentially deadly diseases often carried to humans by the meat they eat.

The Cape Griffon Vulture just eats up those infected carcases, bones and all.

Yes, bones. The calcium in a dead animal's bones provides crucial nourishment for the Griffon's chicks-without it they are prey to scurvy and related horrors-and those bones were traditionally ground up for Our Hero by lions or bone-crunching Hyenas, both of which are in radically short supply in the wild.

Needless to say, we're responsible for that as well.

The life-mating pair of Cape Griffons will lay and nurture a single egg, and the chick-adult bonding is strong, I have been told. But if this chick doesn't make it into a healthy, rickets-free adult, there are Going To Be Consequences.

Cape Griffon Vultures are endemic to Southern Africa.

Here's how the populations stand by country today:

South Africa, Botswana and Lesotho have a few thousand together.

The population of Swaziland is already extinct.

The 150-odd isolated colony in Zimbabwe hasn't been heard of in a while, and we're not very surprised, now are we?

The once-mighty masses of Namibia have dwindled to 11.

Right, 11.

Although just very recently we have hopes that it's up to 17, mostly through the sterling efforts of the folk at REST, the Rare and Endangered Species Trust, (whose link you can also find under my Fellow Deities column) , who have been tagging and rescuing and setting out banquets with heroic fervour.

There's also a Vulture Retaurant at De Wildt, near Pretoria, my fellow Gautengers, where you too can adopt a vulture.

Personally, I think that last idea is a Very Good One.

Just think about who and what vultures are and have been to Africa.

Then ponder a while on how we are killing them off with poison,electrocuting them, starving them and breaking their beautiful wings.

Look at these honey eyes:

and ask yourself how you can continue to support their genocide?

Yes, I know that's not the right word. Or is it?

Would you rather face the wrath of this goddess: