The Northern Cape is the ideal place for bird watching, but more specifically so for Raptor watching. The Raptor Route has been developed, with information offices across the region, to assist you on your quest.
The renowned Kalahari Raptor Route, starting at Kuruman's Raptor Rehabilitation Centre - where birds in rehabilitation can be viewed at close range - tracks the flight of the majestic birds of prey to the Namibian border and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the west, down to Upington and Prieska in the south.
The Raptor Route is a result of determined diplomacy winning farmers over to the conservation cause. The Kalahari is home to 40 raptor and vulture species (of 67 species found in South Africa) and seven owl species (of 12 species nationally).
Some of the most commonly found species include:
Africa Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer)
Habitat: Usually in pairs at larger rivers, lakes, dams. Conspicuous and noisy.
Call: Distinctive far-carrying call ``weee-ah, hyo-hyo-hyo"
Rednecked Falcon (Falco chicquera)
Habitat: Mainly arid areas, especially tree-lined river courses.
Call: A shril ``ki-ki-ki-ki" during breeding season.
Lappetfaced Vulture (Torgos tracheliotus) 100 cm
Habitat: Bushveld regions, thornveld and deserts.
Call: Unknown. High-pitched whistles recorded during display.
Afrikaans: Swart Aasvoël
Martial Eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus)
Habitat: Although varied - from desert to mountains - prefers bushveld. Avoid dense forests. Hunts while flying or perched. Takes mammals up to the size of small antelope. Also game birds, snakes, carrion.
Call: Display call a loud, ringing ``kloee-kloee"
Afrikaans: Breëkop Arend
Whitebacked Vulture (Gyps africanus)
Habitat: A bushveld vulture; normally outnumbers all others in habitat. Considerable numbers normally at carrion.
Call: Harsh cackle and hisses at nest, and when feeding.
Afrikaans: Witrug Aasvoël
Secretary Bird (Sagittarius serpentarius)
Habitat: Usually in pairs - walking through grassland, bushvels or thornveld. Sometimes runs with spread wings. May also soar to great heights. Vulture-like in flight, except for legs and tail streamers.
Call: Normally silent; harsh croaking call during display.
Blackbreasted Snake Eagle (Circaetus gallicus)
Habitat: Frequents drier regions. Occasionally perched, more often flying and hovering - the only Eagle to hover regularly. (Snakes caught are killed and eaten in flight).
Call: Melodious ``kwo-kwo-kwo-kwee"
Afrikaans: Swartbors Slangarend
Visitors interested in obtaining more information, should obtain any of the following books:
* Newman's Birds of Southern Africa, by Kenneth Newman
* Field Guide to the Birds Of Southern Africa, by Ian Sinclair
* Birds of Prey, by Ian Sinclair/Douglas Goode
* The Birds around Us, by Richard Liversidge
* Sasol Birds of Southern Africa, by Ian Sinclair, Phil Hockey & Warwick Tarboton.