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Can tradition and conservation sit side by side when it comes to an endangered species that soars across boundaries?
WHY THIS STORY?
The number of nesting vulture pairs in Kwazulu Natal is in dramatic freefall. Some of the key culprits are traders who poison carcasses that vultures feed on so they can collect the dead birds to sell to the muthi trade. Vulture body parts are used in traditional medicine by sangomas and traditional healers.
Vultures are unique in that their conservation cannot be confined to protected areas - their flight takes them far and wide. A population of birds in Kwazulu-Natal belongs to all of Southern Africa. What happens in KZN therefore affects a much wider region - a timely metaphor for all of conservation.
These birds play an important role in disease and scavenger control that is often underestimated and poorly communicated. The effects on agricultural economy when they start disappearing from the ecosystem, are devastating.
On the other side of the fence, traditional healers and sangomas have been harvesting these birds over centuries for medicinal purposes. How are they collected and traded? What role do they play in traditional medicine? How aware are these healers of the vulture's plight?
This is a film about new and old; about local and regional; about beliefs and science; about theory and practice.
We need partners (funding & expertise) to help us explore this story and bring it to big and small screens.
PHOTOS FROM PRODUCTION
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Director, Sinamatella Productions