Ever wonder what it would be like to fly with vultures? No? OK, we didn’t either until we saw this breathtaking video featuring the Cape Griffon vulture and Kerri Wolter, founder of the South Africa–based conservation organization Vulpro.

Wolter started the organization seven years ago, shortly after her first experience raising a 10-day-old vulture chick to adulthood. That experience led her to take it upon herself to “give these misunderstood species the attention they so rightly deserve.”

Vultures are found on every continent except Australia and Antarctica, yet their numbers have been declining precipitously in recent decades due to a range of threats such as decreasing amounts of carrion, poisoning, electrocution, hunting and loss of habitat.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies the Cape vulture, which is found in southern Africa, as vulnerable — one step away from endangered — with fewer than 10,000 birds at the time of the last survey in 2006.

Wolter and Vulpro hope to reverse this trend by conducting extensive fieldwork to better understand vultures, rehabilitating injured animals, publishing studies on threats facing the species, partnering with fellow research institutions to increase knowledge and building awareness across to the country to protect vultures.

Why vultures?

“Vultures help reduce and control the spread of diseases in both our wildlife and livestock populations,” said Wolter. “They consume most carcasses in only a few hours and thus keep our environment clean. They are also nature’s natural indicators to the health of our ecosystem. Plus, they’re awe-inspiring species that bring grace and beauty to our skies.” View Ensia homepage

“Vultures Choose Me” was filmed and directed by Michael Raimondo of Green Renaissance.