How are scavengers useful to the environment?

Scavengers with a bad reputationThe bearded vulture between myth and reality

The hunt for the scavenger can only be rationally explained by the harsh living conditions of our ancestors in the Alps. Their everyday life was shaped by worries and natural hazards. Their difficult lives were exposed to the whims of weather that could destroy hay and crops, as well as predators that attacked livestock. In addition, the predators - albeit rarely - represented a risk for the residents themselves. These "plagues" hit the poor mountain farmers hard and nurtured a strong feeling of vulnerability to the forces of nature. To allay their fears, they tried to explain the phenomena. In this way, myths were born in which wild animals played an important role. People divided them into two categories: "useful" animals and "harmful" animals.

With its impressive appearance and extraordinary size, the bearded vulture clearly belonged to the second group at that time. The mountain farmers were intimidated by his ability to appear suddenly and his daring to fly over people and "stare" at them. The rigid, red-framed gaze, his black mask and his black beard also gave the bird of prey a strict aura. Although the bird has been shown to cover up to 90 percent of its diet through bones, people believed it killed lambs until the 1970s. This earned him the name "Lammergeier". In short: he was suspected of killing cattle and even attacking mountain people.