An Action Plan to Save West African Vultures

In 2017, the CMS “Multi-Species Action Plan to Conserve African-Eurasian Vultures” (Vulture MsAP)[1] had identified poisoning—both intentional and unintentional—as the most significant threat impacting Old World vultures in the West African subregion.

Six species[2] of Old World vulture occur in West Africa, and today all face a threatened conservation status.

Given the rising concerns, BirdLife International and the Nigeria Conservation Foundation recently co-organized a workshop in Abuja, Nigeria to help Range States of West African vultures develop an action plan to address poisoning as a key reason for the species’ declines in the subregion.

The event, held over three days from 12 to 14 October 2022, brought together CMS National Focal Points, CITES National Authorities, other government representatives, as well as academia and non-governmental organizations from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal. Using a hybrid format of plenary and intensive working group sessions, the workshop embraced participants’ local knowledge and expertise to paint an accurate picture of the threats impacting vultures on the ground.

Following the rich discussions, the consensus was to focus on four main thematic areas to address the current threats to vulture populations: i) killing of vultures for belief-based use; ii) trade and use of vultures for belief-based use; iii) cultural perceptions and beliefs around vultures; and iv) indirect persecution.

The discussions, which were facilitated by the IUCN SSC Conservation Planning Specialist Group, provided a platform for participants to freely and openly engage and share what they perceived as realistic solutions.

A participatory approach was successfully adopted over the three-day workshop which facilitated collective outcomes and decisions to achieve a common vision for saving the six threatened species. As a result, participants identified specific goals, actions, timelines, relevant stakeholders, and indicators. Discussions also addressed options for the governance structure that may be adopted to oversee the implementation of Range States’ ambition.

The outcomes of the three successful days of work will be transformed into a draft action plan that will be reviewed by all meeting participants. It is hoped that the final document will become available in English, French and Portuguese by the end of December 2022.

This workshop was made possible with the financial contribution of the Egyptian Vulture New LIFE Project and the Raptors MOU and the expertise and technical contribution of the IUCN SSC Vulture Specialist Group.


[1] The Vulture MsAP was endorsed by the Signatories to the Raptors MOU at the MOU’s Second Meeting of Signatories (MOS2, 5-8 October 2015).

[2] Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), Hooded vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus), Lappet-faced vulture (Torgos tracheliotos), Rüppell’s vulture (Gyps rueppelli), White-backed vulture (Gyps africanus), and White-headed vulture (Trigonoceps occipitalis).

Last updated on 11 November 2022

West Africa
Illegal trade
Gyps africanus
Gyps rueppelli
Necrosyrtes monachus
Neophron percnopterus
Torgos tracheliotos
Trigonoceps occipitalis
Species group: