We were driving along the R701 dirt road from Smithfield to Wepener when I had to stop sharply and turn the car round to make sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me. An African white-backed vulture, here? I tried to persuade myself that it was a Northern Black Korhaan – black head and neck and lighter feathers on the back. But it was just too big. It had to be the vulture. Very exciting to see it, as it’s way out of its home range: the expert maps show them much further north. These vultures are also now categorised as ‘vulnerable’ because of the decrease in their numbers. As we watched, still amazed at our good fortune, a local farmer drove by, then stopped to see we were ok. When we explained why we were peering into the veld, he said that he’d been seeing vultures in that area for a while, circling overhead. So we’ll be back to check … might be lucky again.

For the fundis, here are the co-ords where we saw the bird:

29deg 57’40.14″ S
26deg 46’36.74″ E

The African white-backed vulture we saw at the side of the R701