by Naomi on November 7, 2010

in Inspiration, Wildlife

Vultures at Moholoholo rehabilitation centre in South Africa
African wildlife photography

VULTURES FEEDING - Moholoholo, Hoedspruit, South Africa

It’s a steamy summer evening near the Kruger National Park. Anticipation spikes the sunset as we pull up to the ‘vulture restaurant’ at Moholoholo (“The Very Great One”) rehabilitation centre. A simple patch of sand to us, the spot is significant to the birds. Dozens of them. The moment the carcass thuds to earth, they swoop in from their circling. A bombardment of quietly beating feathers flares dust into the air, muffling soft tearing and crunching sounds. Not a single squawk is uttered.

Each species knows precisely what to do. Larger-beaked prey ‘openers’ jostle beside their cousins who pick the bones clean. The ten minute melee is marked by precision feeding, highlighted with huge hops and tugs of war, as well as the intermittent scampering of a warthog. He’s having dinner too, snatching morsels from the heaving heap.

As swiftly as it began, the meal is over; barely a scrap to mark the spot. A flurry of large bodies lifts off and flies away. No wonder Nature is not strewn with waste. Among the less endearing of her feathered set, vultures sometimes receive a bad rap. Perhaps not the prettiest, they each have a part to play. As we all do.

Quotes to consider:

“Judge a tree from its fruit, not from its leaves” – Euripides

“We judge others by their behavior. We judge ourselves by our intentions.” – Ian Percy

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” – Carl Gustav Jung

“The tendency to turn human judgments into divine commands makes religion one of the most dangerous forces in the world.” – Georgia Harkness

“. . . It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.” – Paulo Coelho

“Although I cannot lay an egg, I am a very good judge of omelettes” – George Bernard Shaw

Here are a few more pics taken by Dave:

African wildlife photography

VULTURE RESTAURANT - Moholoholo, Hoedspruit, South Africa

African wildlife photography

WARTHOG WITH VULTURES - Moholoholo, Hoedspruit, South Africa

African wildlife photography

WHITEBACKED VULTURE - Moholoholo, Hoedspruit, South Africa

African wildlife photography

WHITEBACKED VULTURE - Moholoholo, Hoedpsruit, South Africa

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Cindy November 15, 2010 at 10:20 am

I try not to judge, but vultures give me the heebies.
(And I didn’t know warthogs ate meat!)
Have a great week Naomi.


Naomi November 15, 2010 at 11:08 am

Thanks, Cindy – have a great week too 😀

As you point out, we typically see warthogs eating grasses and roots, but here’s Wikipedia’s description of their food: “The common warthog diet is omnivorous, composed of grasses, roots, berries and other fruits, bark, fungi, eggs, dead animals, and even small mammals, reptiles and birds.”

http://www.africanwildlifeguide.com provides another possible explanation for this one’s behaviour:

“Warthogs have been observed feeding at carcasses. What can often be misconstrued as a warthog eating meat is actually the warthog feeding on the stomach contents of the dead animal. These contents are partially digested and still have a lot of nutrition in them. There are accounts of warthogs feeding on meat. No reason has been given for this behaviour.”


Lance November 15, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Ahhhh….judgment. That’s a tough one for me. I *try* not to (and yet, I know I do, too). So, that Paulo Coelho quote has special meaning to me. In this journey through life, I cannot know what has brought another to the path they are on…and where that might lead them. (so important for me to remember…)

Once again, the photos are amazing!! What an experience, to be with the wildlife that you and Dave get to experience!


Naomi November 15, 2010 at 7:09 pm

Thank you, Lance! Experiencing wildlife as we do is the highest privilege, that we never tire of. That quote also spoke loudly to me 🙂


thysleroux November 15, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Extraordinary photos! **awe**

The quotes compliment this very well …


Naomi November 15, 2010 at 7:10 pm

Much appreciated, Thys! I’ll pass on to Dave 🙂


nrhatch November 15, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Wonderful post. That last photo . . . wow! Look into the eyes of the soul.

My favorite quote: “We judge others by their behavior. We judge ourselves by our intentions.” – Ian Percy

So true. I see my words and deeds in the context of my intention ~ others don’t get to see that inner motivation. They see only the behavior, which is then evaluated in the light of their own experiences, not mine. And vice versa.

Thanks, Naomi.


Naomi November 15, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Thank you for that added insight, Nancy. I also found that quote – and pic – pretty powerful 🙂


Koek! November 15, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Amazing pics 🙂


Naomi November 15, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Thank you kindly 🙂


Paula Tohline Calhoun November 15, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Once again, stunning photos, and thought-provoking ideas. Judgment is not the word that comes to my mind when seeing or thinking of vultures, although I see the way in which you used/use it. Vultures can certainly be misunderstood. As I pointed out to Nancy in one of her posts today, the subject of misunderstanding comes up over and over again in all of our discussions, doesn’t it!?! I referenced one such discussion with Nancy, and I’ll reference another one here – both touch on that same topic, however – misjudging, etc.:


Here’s to mutual understanding and sound judgment! Cheers! 😀


Naomi November 15, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Absolutely cheers to that, Paula! Thanks so much for your input and the link to that eloquent post of yours. I really enjoyed reading it.


kateshrewsday November 15, 2010 at 11:29 pm

Stunning stuff, Naomi. We see vultures in our bird sanctuaries here- they may look efficient but our Hawk Conservancy tells us cattle inoculations are having a catastrophic effect on some species, when they eat cattle carcasses. Beautiful pilots.

It’s binary, isn’t it? Carcass needs clearing up now you see it, now you don’t.

I really love that last pic. Straight head and vulture shoulders(if they have shoulders)


Naomi November 16, 2010 at 10:42 am

Thank you, Kate – I love that last one too 🙂 It’s so sad to hear about your vulture species suffering, and horrifying how easily us humans can tip the scales…


Amy @ Soul Dipper November 16, 2010 at 12:27 am

As always, I learn from your post, Naomi. Interesting about the nicely warmed intestinal banquet that the little warthog is after. In our part of the world, more and more people are discovering the superior intelligence of the pig.

I’ve often wondered if “judgment” is the negative label of assessing while “discernment” is the positive. If an animal is charging me, it all becomes a moot point!

The Coelho and Euripides quotes caught my attention today along with the incredible photos.

By the way, loved your Face Book announcement of your other business: http://www.ovandp.co.za/

Busy people, you two!


Naomi November 16, 2010 at 10:47 am

Thanks for your lovely comment, Amy!

Love your expression “intestinal banquet”, and I’m happy to hear about pigs’ intelligence, having a particularly soft spot for them 😀

That’s an interesting observation, too, about “discernment”. Thank you for provoking thought about it…


Tokeloshe November 16, 2010 at 2:02 am

Excellent post and stunning photos.

What a thrill thank you for sharing.


Naomi November 16, 2010 at 10:48 am

Thank you, Tok – much appreciated!


Heart November 16, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Always the one to write a fitting prose to your own pictures.. Amazing description of the melee!! Survival of the fittest.. ! I can’t rate a favorite, but this post might be on my top 3!! And why the heck do I think that the Whitebacked vulture’s beak is something I can rub and feel?


Naomi November 17, 2010 at 4:43 pm

THANKS, Rachana! What a wonderfully kind comment…and I agree with you about that beak 😀


Tammy McLeod November 18, 2010 at 6:01 am

It’s odd how far away we live but we have turkey vultures and javalina and they look so much like your creatures. As always, I enjoy your quotes.


Naomi November 23, 2010 at 9:02 am

Thanks, Tammy! The similarities around the world strike us too when travelling. So much to discover 🙂


Jamie Dedes, all rights reserved November 20, 2010 at 1:47 am

Such an education for a city girl to visit you, Naomi. Wonderful posts. I love the quotations and Dave’s pix as well as your narative. Lovely. The perfect package. Thank you and thanks to your Dave too.

Happy days …


Naomi November 23, 2010 at 9:03 am

Thank you for such kind words, Jamie! We sincerely appreciate your visits and comments. Blessings from SA 🙂


Posky November 25, 2010 at 3:21 am

I’ve never been in love with birds and I think your post has pushed me further in the direction of absolute apathy. I’m all for protecting animals birds are low on my priority list and high on the tasty to eat list.

Great photos.


Naomi November 29, 2010 at 9:02 am

Each to their own, Posky…thanks for appreciating the pics 😀


viewfromtheside November 27, 2010 at 10:51 pm

I found you!


Naomi November 29, 2010 at 9:02 am

How cool, thank you! I’ll find you too now 😀


Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: