The Hooded Vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus) is an African endemic and critically endangered vulture that feeds primarily on human waste. Hooded vultures are the most common vulture species in Rwanda, and they are threatened by habitat loss due to infrastructure expansion, food depletion, and a lack of public awareness. This species is thought also to be experiencing an extremely rapid population decline at an extent rate of over 80%, as a result of indiscriminate poisoning, trade for traditional medicine, persecution, and electrocution, as well as habitat loss and degradation.
The hooded vulture is dark chocolatey brown in color, with a white “lapel” visible around its neck at times. The hooded vulture, as the names indicate, has a small patch of downy feathers that runs along the back of its neck to the crown of its head, giving it the appearance of a fluffy, cream-colored hood! It has a long, narrow bill and dark eyes. It has no feathers on its face and its bare skin is normally white. When the vulture becomes agitated or anxious, the white face flushes to a light pink or red, giving the appearance that it is blushing.
Many people mistakenly believe that vultures are dirty animals because of their steady diet of dead animals. However, the exact opposite is true.and can spend quite a bit of time around watering holes. And speaking of bathing, vultures also spend time sunbathing, or sunning, as well. But it isn’t because they want to get a tan! Among other reasons, it is to help keep their feathers healthy and clean.
In human communities, hooded vultures are significant and specialized scavengers. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to live longer because they spend their entire lives cleaning the environment and preventing the transmission of diseases and pandemics. So, for our own sake, we must preserve them.
The buffer zone of the Mpenge river is protected by 5000 indigenous trees of 10 different species. Three types of invasive plants were removed from the buffer zone, and the river was revived from excessive pollution. Bird species that had previously fled the wetland have returned as a result of its restoration.
By Deborah ISHIMWE