A local falconry centre is celebrating after welcoming three rare young Griffon Vultures as part of an international conservation project to help re-populate the endangered species.
South Cave Falconry, located at the Rudstone Walk Hotel just outside the village, is a purpose built centre on a two-acre site with spectacular views over the Yorkshire Wolds.
The centre is taking part in the conservation project by acting as custodians of the young birds for a period of 2-3 years, after which time they will be either released into the wild or used as breeding stock here in the UK.
Griffon Vultures are found throughout Asia and Europe and are classified as ‘old world vultures’, but sadly their numbers have declined by as much as 95% in some areas. They are a scavenging bird, feeding on carrion, and by cleaning and removing the carcasses of dead animals they help to prevent the spread of disease to humans.
Weighing between 15-20 kgs they have a wingspan of approx. 9-10 ft and can live up to 40 years in captivity. The Griffon Vulture has been extinct in the UK since the 16th century.
Conservationists were first alerted to their decline in the wild when human remains offered in funeral rites were not being consumed. (The Parsi culture in India offer their dead on ‘The Towers of Silence’ in a funeral rite which dates back to the 5th century).
When the birds stopped coming investigations revealed that large numbers of vultures were dying from the ingestion of anti-inflammatory drugs being fed to cattle. Over a million birds have died as a result of liver and kidney failure after consuming food contaminated with Diclofenac, a substance which has now been banned from use in livestock.
The international conservation programme is essential to ensure the survival of this species.
Visitors to the centre will be able to help by participating in a Vulture Adoption Scheme.
The falconry centre also offer guided aviary tours, flying displays and various interactive experiences such as hawk walks, hunting days and falconry lessons.
As well as running the falconry business from the site, their Wolds Way Owl Trust also provides a home for rescued owls.
To find out more visit www.southcavefalconry.co.uk