Vultures and Valentines! A perfect match for any bird lover! Join us Monday, February 14th at 7:00 PM to hear our speaker, Maggie Hirschauer, present her fascinating talk on the Magnificent Vultures of Africa.
Vultures deserve our gratitude. They curtail the spread of disease through rapidly ridding the environment of decaying carcasses. Their demise may have catastrophic results for humans and the environment. Of the nine vulture species on the African continent, seven have declined by 80% in recent years. Conservation of these long-lived and often wide-ranging species is complicated as they face numerous threats that vary by species and location. VulPro is a non-profit organization in South Africa dedicated to saving Africa’s vultures. The VulPro vulture center, which currently houses over 250 non-releasable birds, is leading the way with captive breeding for reintroductions, rehabilitation, research and education. This presentation will highlight the issues African vultures face today, VulPro’s work to advocate for these misunderstood creatures, and some insights learned after working with VulPro over several years.
Maggie always dreamed of life in Africa. While studying for her undergraduate degree in animal behavior at Indiana University, she jumped at the opportunity to manage a chimpanzee research project in a remote part of Uganda’s wilderness. Later she moved to Kenya to study blue monkey social dynamics in a forest facing increasing human encroachment. For three years she lived at VulPro’s vulture facility while undertaking her zoology MSc research with their Cape Vulture captive breeding program. Her thesis through Rhodes University (South Africa) followed several captive-bred chicks, starting with their parents’ copulations and ending with the chicks’ social integration into the wild. She helped develop soft release protocols for the endangered species’ reintroduction program which now includes a release enclosure on top of a wild colony cliff in the Magaliesberg Mountains. She currently lives in Florence, Montana, where she works for MPG Ranch conducting monarch butterfly research in summer and mountain lion tracking in winter. She remains involved with VulPro by contributing to research publications and acting as representative to the American Zoological Association’s African Vulture SAFE Program. She visits VulPro as often as possible to volunteer with rehabilitation and research on-site.
The meeting will be held in Room 110 in the Interdisciplinary Sciences Building (ISB) on the University of Montana campus. The building lies on the south end of campus on Beckwith Avenue between Maurice and Mansfield avenues. We will continue to meet in-person unless increasing COVID numbers require us to switch to a virtual meeting. Please check your email regularly and monitor our website for updates. Masks will continue to be required based on university policy and social distancing will be practiced.