Six of Africa’s 11 vulture species – the continent’s largest and most recognisable birds of prey – are now at a higher risk of extinction, according to the latest assessment of birds carried out by BirdLife International for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™.
The main causes of the drop in African vulture populations are thought to be indiscriminate poisonings, where the birds are drawn to poisoned baits, use of vulture body parts in traditional medicine, and deliberate targeting by poachers, as the presence of vultures can alert authorities to illegally killed big game carcasses.
Dr Julius Arinaitwe, BirdLife International’s Africa Programme Director, said:
“As well as robbing the African skies of one of their most iconic and spectacular groups of birds, the rapid decline of the continent’s vultures has profound consequences for its people – as vultures help stop the spread of diseases by cleaning up rotting carcasses.”
“However, now we are becoming aware of the sheer scale of the declines involved, there is still just enough time for conservationists to work with law-makers, faith-based organisations, government agencies and local people, to make sure there is a future for these magnificent scavengers.”
We’re not just going to sit around and watch vultures fall out of the sky.
BirdLife Partners recently came together to take action for African vultures – making a commitment to save ‘Nature’s clean-up crew’.
Patricia Zurita (BirdLife’s Chief Executive) with Bradnee Chambers (Executive Secretary of the UNEP Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS)) recently made a commitment to ensure that the plight of these essential creatures is made known to a global audience.
It is high-time the world fully-appreciated the severity of this problem-for not only the birds themselves, but the health of the people of the continent.
Today, BirdLife launches a campaign to save Africa’s vultures:
“Vultures and other birds play a critical role in maintaining healthy ecosystems,” said Simon Stuart, Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission. “Their decline can have serious knock-on effects on other species and the many benefits provided by nature.
While it is encouraging to see some positive outcomes of conservation action, this update is an important wake-up call, showing that urgent efforts need to be taken to protect these species.”
This article was first published by BirdLife International on 29 Oct 2015. Please leave any suggestions or comments you may have at the bottom of this page.
If you are in any way moved by this story, please visit: www.birdlife.org/savevultures