Bearded Vulture Project

About me ...

I am an extremely passionate person – when the environment takes a hit it feels to me like a physical blow.  Ever since I was a little girl I have felt helpless, just a voice in the wilderness...




Bearded Vultures were first introduced to me when I went on a trip with a close friend of mine to Eshowe when I was 11 (I am now 15).  We stayed in a B&B that was owned by Hugh Chittenden and his wife and we went birding in the surrounding areas.  On our last day Hugh, who is one of South Africa’s leading ornithologists and authors, spoke to me about his recent visit up to Giant’s Castle Vulture Hide and how worthwhile it had been.  Soon after hearing this I dragged my dad to the very same hide.  We were unsuccessful even after hours of patient waiting... I was determined to see this elusive bird and not having seen one on my first trip had only proven to me how endangered they are.


A few months later I returned with the rest of my family to be disappointed once again.  During these two visits I was lucky enough to meet a man sharing my same passion, Ian Rushworth, an Ecologist at Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.  He told me all about a conservation project that was to ensure the wellbeing of these birds.  I was so excited to hear this and immediately asked what I could do to help... I don’t think that either of us imagined that just two years on I would have raised US$10 000 for this cause.  I was just an excitable little girl hoping to contribute some money by maybe selling cupcakes at the most.


After some discussion Ian told me that it would cost R15 000 each year to track just one bird, and that was when I realised it would take a little more effort than selling cupcakes.


On the way back from meeting Ian, I told my dad how disappointed I was that I wouldn’t be able to help or have little impact on the future of these birds. He said to me that if I was passionate enough and willing to put in the effort he would help me.


After exchanging a few emails with Ian he put me in contact with Sonja Krüger another colleague of his at Ezemvelo.  I told her my ideas and she helped provide me with some information that I was going to need to put my plan into action.  The plan was that I would prepare a presentation on why I was passionate about helping the Bearded Vultures and present it to some of my dads’ friends in business and I would ask them for financial support.


At first I was very apprehensive and the whole idea of speaking in front of many powerful people like CEO’s and CFO’s of big corporates in my home town of Durban  seemed very ominous – I was often scared I would not only be turned away but laughed at.  But as it turned out, each meeting I gained in confidence and even when I was turned away I managed to get something out of it, whether it was verbal support or new ideas.  I was always told to keep pursuing my goal.  Even when I failed to raise funding, I was still raising awareness.


Four Elements

I have started a cause called Four Elements - check out the Facebook page, follow  on Twitter (Four Elements - @DIVE_AIM_FLY) or go straight to the website!


Olivia the Bearded Vulture


Ezemvelo kindly named a Bearded Vulture after me.  She was a juvenile bird that was tagged in 2009.  I had hoped to one day see her.  The photo below is of her.



Olivia was found dead in May 2012.

Read more about this below...

Olivia the Bearded Vultures death May 2012.pdf Olivia the Bearded Vultures death May 2012.pdf
Size : 332.732 Kb
Type : pdf

I have many other passions being: Photography, cinematography, scuba diving, freediving, birding, music (I am part of my provincial orchestra playing the flute and guitar), hockey and running. These have all taught me something different and given me the ability to feel incredibly deeply and I believe gave me the drive to not give up. I am also very lucky to go to Durban Girls' College where innovative thinking, individuality and setting and achieving goals is encouraged.

Ezemvelo have been wonderfully supportive and invited me to join them during some of the vulture tagging activities, which was a great experience.

Finally, this project is enormously indebted to the sponsors and donors who supported the bearded vulture project and those who didn’t laugh me out of their offices: thank you, Marriott, Shepstone and Wylie Attorneys, Suncoast Casino, Taylor and Finlay Attorneys, Turkuazoo (Istanbul), and Aspen Pharmacare.

There are many ways you can help whether through donations on the "How can I help" page or sharing your ideas on the Facebook page. Spreading awareness and stripping away misunderstanding is always helpful.

You are able to download my original presentation off this website (OK, so I was only 12 when I did it, so no judging, please!).

Please could you like the Facebook page and show your support.