Khaleesi our vulture Queen (The little Vulture who could!)

Little Khaleesi - captive bred Cape Vulture chick @ VulPro
Little Khaleesi captive bred Cape Vulture chick @ VulPro

Khaleesi got her name from the “Game of Thrones” series, with Khaleesi being the Dothraki name for Queen.   Hatched on the 21st July 2016 in a critical condition, little Khaleesi is already living up to her name proving to be a strong and regal personality.  She didn’t have the easiest start in life, being born very small and underweight and certainly would not have survived if she had been in the wild. Inside her egg was an unusual amount of thick liquid, we suspect all caused by a bacterial infection. She was unable to eat or defecate normally for the first couple of weeks of her life.  Put on an intensive course of antibiotics, fluids and round the clock care, little Khaleesi slowly but surely gained ground.

Khaleesi at 4 days old with surrogate brother PePe
Khaleesi at 4 days old with surrogate brother PePe

A vital part of saving animals, but more especially wildlife, is to ensure that their emotional strength is maintained or boosted.  Preventing depression and stress while still maintaining the will to live is one of the best ways to save any wild animal that is being treated or rehabilitated.  In order to help Khaleesi survive we had to give her extra care and attention. She was put with her surrogate big brother PePe who helped to keep her warm and give her invaluable body contact to keep her fighting spirit strong.  Khaleesi was being fed at this stage, we would place food in her beak which she would swallow.  She was still very quiet at this point probably due to weakness, as she strengthened she became far more vocal.

Khaleesi and friend
Khaleesi and friend

On July the 28th 2016, Khaleesi ate on her own for the first time, which was a huge milestone for her.  We all gave a huge sigh of relief feeling that she might now make it.  You can see how small she still was in the photo where she was lying next to one of our other newly hatched chicks.

 

Khaleesi exhausted after feeding
Khaleesi exhausted after feeding

By August the 5th Khaleesi was growing and doing very well.  She had really improved, eating on her own and putting on some much needed weight.  An important part of her care was also daily exposure to sunlight; natural vitamin D exposure helps calcium absorption for strong bone development.  Vultures are heavy birds on proportionately short legs, which need to be very strong to support them.

Khaleesi on the 5th August 2016
Khaleesi on the 5th August 2016

Update 10th August 2016

Khaleesi attained another milestone, we put her back on the breeding cliff with her parents, all went well and we will be monitoring her progress closely.

Update 11th September 2016

Khaleesi has been back with her parents for four weeks already and is thriving.  She has grown from a weak, sickly young chick to an incredibly beautiful young vulture.  Today she is just over 7 weeks old, a milestone that fills us with pride, relief and love every time we look at her.

Khaleesi at 7 weeks old, back on the cliffs with her parents
Khaleesi at 7 weeks old, back on the cliffs with her parents

As with all of our chicks, Khaleesi carries with her our hopes for the future of vultures in Africa.  She will be tagged when she is a little older, ultimately she will be fitted with a satellite tracking device and we will release her and monitor her progress in the wild.

Our hopes and dreams are to see her grow, pair up and have chicks of her own a legacy to be continued over the years.

Follow her story as we update you over time, on her life at VulPro and her ultimate release and travels around Africa.

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