Vultures and Water

Vultures and Farmers

Vultures and other avian scavengers play a very important ecological role in clearing the veld of carcasses. By rapidly consuming the remains of dead animals, vultures can prevent these carcasses from acting as host to various diseases that may spread to livestock. Burning or burying dead stock is an unpleasant, time consuming and often costly exercise. By making use of the vultures' ability to perform this task effectively, farmers can save themselves the time and trouble and allow the birds to feed in a safe environment.


Vultures that are seen circling above or feeding upon a carcass can alert the farmer to dead stock. This gives the farmer the opportunity to have a post-mortem carried out. In this way, potential disease outbreaks can be avoided

Vultures are hygienic birds and large groups of all species often gather around favourite water holes or on sandbanks along rivers, where they bathe, preen and drink.


Some farmers are unhappy about the vulture's habit of fouling drinking troughs. It is suggested that a small, shallow dam be provided. The birds will use this source of water and not foul the stock's water trough. Provision for the birds' needs could be made at some remote part of the farm where stock is absent.


Vultures may drown after falling into a circular farm reservoir. This can be avoided by attaching a pole, branch, ladder or wooden plank to the side of the reservoir enabling the wet bird to clamber out.

Do Vultures Spread Disease?

Visiting Farming Communities

Vultures Namibia visits farming communities to promote vulture conservation. This is done through the local agricultural farmers associations and conservancies. Talks illustrated with photos, maps and graphs makes farmers aware of the importance of vultures in the ecosystem and the dangers that the birds face from indiscriminate use of poison

Anthrax is a spore-borne disease and these spores are able to survive in the soil for periods of up to fifty years. For the disease to break out however, certain ecological conditions are necessary. Outbreaks may, for example, occur after a hot dry spell following heavy rains.


Vultures eat dead animals, some of which may have been diseased. Anthrax spores are only able to form when a diseased animal has been allowed to lie open to the air and sun for several hours, so there is good evidence that vultures are important INHIBITORS of anthrax by consuming affected carcasses before anthrax spores have had a chance to develop.


Vultures do not carry rabies or foot-and-mouth disease, but they and other harmless animals may be victims of reckless control measures.

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