BirdLife International has announced that vultures are declining and rapidly becoming one of the world’s most threatened groups of birds. In a bid to stop this important family of birds slipping towards extinction in Europe and Africa, they have launched a global campaign asking for public support to “Stop Vulture Poisoning Now”.
The crash of vulture populations in Asia was shockingly fast – quicker than any other wild bird, including the Dodo. Within a decade, species such as the White-rumped Vulture declined by 99.9% in India alone as a result of veterinary drug diclofenac that is lethally toxic to vultures.
Eleven species of vultures occur on the African continent, and threats to these vultures include deliberate and accidental poisoning, habitat loss, energy infrastructure and persecution for body parts to be used in traditional medicine.
“Recent news reports contain multiple examples of deliberate and accidental poisoning such as the up to 600 vultures found deliberately poisoned in the Kwando region in northern Namibia and 60 dead vultures which were found on a farm in the Swartberg area of KwaZulu-Natal,” said Dr Hanneline Smit-Robinson, Manager of BirdLife South Africa’s Terrestrial Bird Conservation Programme.
Seven of the 11 vulture species that occur in Africa are listed on the IUCN Red List and these species are facing a complexity of multiple threats. Worryingly, five of these species joined the Red List of threatened species only in the last seven years. According to Kariuki Ndanganga, BirdLife Africa’s Species Programme Manager, “unless the threats are identified and tackled quickly and effectively, vultures in Africa and Europe could face extinction within our lifetime”.
Read the media release at: BLSA on vulture extinction risk – September 2014