By Olivia Taylor
The Bearded Vulture is dying out in Southern Africa. One day, all we will have are photographs to remind us of the amazing creatures that once flew in our skies. Regrets and the further erosion of our environment is highly unnecessary. There are less than 100 bearded vulture nesting pairs left.
The Ezemvelo Bearded Vulture Project commenced in 2000 to ensure the well-being and conservation of bearded vultures in Southern Africa by tracking these beautiful birds and educating the general public about the importance of their role in biodiversity and the environment.
In 2009, when I was 12 (I am now 15) I became concerned about the plight of the bearded vulture. After initially meeting Ian Rushworth, I committed myself to raising funding for the Project. Working closely with Sonja Krueger, my passion and effort has helped raise in excess of US$10 000 so far from equally committed donors.
Ezemvelo kindly named a bearded vulture after me. She was a juvenile bird that was tagged in 2009. I had hoped to see her one day. All I have of her is this beautiful picture.
But in May 2012 Olivia was found dead in the Lesotho mountains after suspected poisoning. This was a massive blow for me because this is what I had been trying so hard to prevent. It taught me the reality of conservation - that even after countless months of work, things can still go horribly wrong...