Vultures are a critical component of ecosystems, providing significant economic and health benefits to human society by cleaning up carcasses and other organic waste in the environment; and they have special cultural value in many countries. Nearly all species, however, have experienced dramatic population declines in the past decades as a result of feeding on animal carcasses treated with drugs that are fatal to vultures, poisoning, poaching, habitat loss, lack of food, collision with energy infrastructure, electrocution by powerlines, and various other pressures.
At the previous CMS COP12
in 2017, the CMS Contracting Parties adopted the Multi-species Action Plan to conserve African-Eurasian Vultures (Vulture MsAP
), covering 15 species of mostly Critically Endangered Old World Vultures. The 166-page MsAP was the outcome of years of consultations and preparatory work by a broad consortium of organizations and experts. It sets out an extensive framework of conservation objectives, priority actions and organisational matters and promotes a concerted and collaborative approach at the international level.
The Vulture MsAP Strategic Implementation Plan contains an inventory of activities to date that are already being undertaken, as reported through stakeholder surveys and consultations over the past two years. At the same time, the document provides a roadmap of concrete priorities for delivering the agreed framework, a signpost to relevant cooperation opportunities, and added impetus for mobilizing resources and support.
Overall, a vast range of projects and activities are underway in different regions and are contributing to the Vulture MsAP’s implementation (data has been recorded for 76 out 124 activities listed in the Vulture MsAP), while other proposals are being developed on a continuing basis. There is a clear emphasis on ongoing activities in research and monitoring, while activities relating to poisoning, energy infrastructure and food supply issues are also prominent. Information on belief-based use, sentinel poisoning, lead ammunition, habitat protection/management, disturbance and persecution appear less frequently. Of the actions identified in the Vulture MsAP as ‘essential’ or ‘critical’ priorities, fewer have been reported so far on those that involve government-level actions for legislation, policy and regulation than those involving field or community-based action. In terms of geographical differences, Africa and Europe have proportionately more activities underway or planned than other regions.
Important gaps in implementation include the need for a fully functioning framework to coordinate the Vulture MsAP’s implementation internationally, and to ensure that this is maintained over the life of the Plan. As time goes on, the lack of sufficient coordination capacity may become an increasingly limiting factor on what can be achieved, given the strategic scale of the agenda at stake. Linked to this is the need to develop and implement a strategy for securing the funding and other resources needed for implementing the plan.
The implementation of the actions outlined in the Vulture MsAP falls largely to a wide group of stakeholders such as government agencies, NGOs, business interests, scientists and communities at national and local levels.
“We look forward to Range States’ and other stakeholders’ support to implement the proposed actions in order to conserve African-Eurasian vultures and to save them from extinction” said Mr. Lyle Glowka, Executive Coordinator of CMS Office – Abu Dhabi. “The Vultures MsAP is one of the most significant outputs to date from the CMS Raptors MOU. The Strategic Implementation Plan is designed to help governments and the vulture research and conservation community translate the MsAP into action on the ground. Our vision is to make the Strategic Implementation Plan a “living document” by giving all stakeholders the opportunity to share information on their implementation activities on a regular basis, enabling us to update the document continuously”.
The Coordinating Unit extends its sincere appreciation to the Federal Office for the Environment of the Government of Switzerland for financial support, to Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi for core support, to the Vulture MsAP Steering Group, representatives of Vulture MsAP Range States, NGOs and other specialist organisations as well as all stakeholders who provided information, including responses to the questionnaire survey in 2018 and other consultations that led to the compilation of this document.