Multi-species Action Plan to Conserve African-Eurasian Vultures

White-backed vulture (Gyps africanus) © André Botha


Vultures are under extreme pressure from a range of human activities. Drastic and widespread vulture population declines in recent years in Asia and Africa are reflected by the IUCN Red List status: the majority of species of Old World Vultures are now considered ‘Critically Endangered’.

Vultures are threatened by a wide array of human activities, such as direct and indirect poisoning, habitat loss and degradation, decreased food availability, electrocution and collision with power grids and human disturbance. This crisis is of particular concern because vultures provide critically important ecosystem services by cleaning up carcasses and other organic waste in the environment, thus reducing the spread of dangerous diseases such as anthrax and rabies – resulting in highly significant economic and human health benefits. Vultures utilize vast home ranges, frequently crossing geo-political boundaries and so international cooperation is essential to their conservation.

In 2017, CMS Parties adopted the Vulture Multi-species Action Plan (Vulture MsAP) providing a strategic conservation plan covering the geographic ranges (128 states) of all 15 species of migratory African-Eurasian ("Old World") vultures and promoting concerted, collaborative and coordinated international actions to save vultures species from further decline and extinction. 

In 2020, the Coordinating Unit of the Raptors MOU published the first version of the Vulture MsAP Strategic Implementation Plan at CMS COP13 in Gandhinagar, India. The Plan contains an inventory of vulture conservation activities to date and provides a roadmap of concrete priorities for delivering the agreed framework of the Vulture MsAP, a signpost to relevant cooperation opportunities, and added impetus for mobilizing resources and support.


Vulture MsAP Documents

The complete Vulture MsAP and related documents are available here. Documents include:

  • The complete Vulture Multi-species Action Plan (Vulture MsAP)
  • Summary document of the Vulture MsAP in different languages
  • Egyptian Vulture Flyway Action Plan (Annex 4 to the Action Plan)
  • Cinereous Vulture Flyway Action Plan (Annex 5 to the Action Plan)
  • Blueprint for the Recovery of South Asia's Critically Endangered Gyps Vultures (Annex 6 to the Action Plan)
  • Vulture MsAP Strategic Implementation Plan (2020)

If you wish to provide funding to support the implementation of the Vulture MsAP, please contact the Coordinating Unit of the Raptors MOU.


Learn more about the Vulture MsAP and the African vulture crisis in the video below
(also available in French, Spanish and Portuguese).
Produced by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 2019


In November 2014, CMS Parties gathered at COP11 in Ecuador adopted CMS Resolution 11.14 Programme of Work on Migratory Birds and Flyways, which established the mandate to develop a Multi-species Action Plan to Conserve African-Eurasian Vultures (Vulture MsAP) under the auspices of the CMS Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia (Raptors MOU). The mission was to bring together representatives of Range States, partners and interested parties to develop a coordinated Action Plan for submission to CMS COP12, scheduled to be held in October 2017.

The overall aim was to develop a comprehensive strategic Action Plan covering the whole geographic ranges (128 countries) of 15 species of Old World vultures to promote concerted and collaborative international conservation actions. The proposed objectives of the Vulture MsAP included:

  • Rapidly halt current population declines in all species covered by the Vulture MsAP
  • Reverse recent population trends to bring the conservation status of each species back to a favourable level
  • Provide conservation management guidelines applicable to all Range States covered by the Vulture MsAP

Four regional workshops were held in 2016 - 2017 to gather detailed information on vulture species distribution, population sizes and trends, as well as a better understanding of the threats and associated drivers, and the conservation measures required to address them.  The African Regional Workshop was held in October 2016 in Senegal and was co-organised by BirdLife International; the European Regional Workshop was held in late October 2016 in Spain and was co-organised by the Vulture Conservation Foundation; the Asian Regional Workshop was held in late November 2016 in Mumbai, India and was co-organised by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds; and the Middle East Regional Workshop was held in early February 2017 in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates and was co-organised with the Environment and Protected Areas Authority of the Emirate of Sharjah.

The Overarching Workshop to develop the Vulture MsAP took place mid-February 2017 in Toledo, Spain, at the kind invitation of the Regional Government of Castilla-La Mancha. This concluding workshop reviewed the first consolidated draft of the Vulture MsAP, incorporating the four regional components, elaborated certain key strategic components of the MsAP which had not been collectively considered at the Regional Workshops, and engendered and developed multi-lateral support.

A month-long public consultation exercise on the second draft of the Vulture MsAP was launched in March 2017, with the purpose to reach out even further to invite comments and improvements from anyone who recognizes the importance of vultures and the critical need to conserve them. All comments received during the consultation period were reviewed and, where appropriate, integrated into a final draft of the Vulture MsAP, which was formally submitted to the CMS Secretariat on 24 May 2017. 

At COP12, held in Manila, Philippines on 23 - 28 October 2017, the Vulture MsAP was adopted by CMS Parties



About the Vulture MsAP and vulture conservation across Europe.

Produced by The Vulture Conservation Foundation, 2019


About the poisoning of vultures (click image below).

Produced by The Peregrine Fund, 2019


About the vulture crisis in West Africa, the vulture's role in nature, threats to vultures
and best practices to adopt in vulture conservation (also available in French).

Produced by NATURAMA, in collaboration with the Laboratory of Animal Biology and Ecology (LEBA).


The story of Bearded Vulture BG1055 - what is takes to breed chicks in captivity

Produced by The Vulture Conservation Foundation, 2020


Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction

Produced by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, 2014

The Vulture MsAP Steering Group aims to oversee, guide and promote the overall implementation of the Vulture Multi-species Action Plan. Steering group members meet virtually on a regular basis to discuss actions to advance the implementation of the Action Plan. Recent activities coordinated by the steering group are outlined below.

  • In April 2018, members of the steering group lead a one-day session to promote the CMS Vulture MsAP at the Global Summit for the Flyways, convened by BirdLife International and hosted by the International Fund for Houbara Conservation in Abu Dhabi, UAE. In an effort to offer attractive funding opportunities at different levels of support, a suite of 11 Flagship Project Proposals was developed and launched at this event.  Delegates reinforced the importance of the Vulture MsAP and highlighted the need for a ‘community of implementers’ bringing together all stakeholders. There was a particular urgency to put in place rapid response mechanisms for communities and governments to jointly tackle the threat of poison baits, and safety testing for veterinary pharmaceuticals to reduce this proven risk. The concept of ‘Vulture Safe Zones’ was considered crucial in South Asia; with similar, appropriately-adapted landscape approaches showing great promise in other regions, particularly Africa. More information on the declaration and outcome can be found here
  • In August 2019, members of the steering group, lead by BirdLife International, hosted a side-event entitled Saving Africa’s Vultures: Threats Posed by the Illegal Wildlife Trade at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) COP18 held in Geneva, Switzerland.  Ms Melanie Virtue, Head of the Aquatic Species Team at the CMS Secretariat, gave a presentation on the Vulture MsAP on behalf of the Coordinating Unit. A proposal (CoP18 Doc. 97) concerning West African vulture trade and conservation management had been submitted by three African countries (Burkina Faso, Niger and Senegal); seven CITES Decisions as shown in the summary record (CoP18 Com. I Rec. 6) were adopted at plenary. 
  • At the European Vulture Conference, organized by the Vulture Conservation Foundation and held from 1 – 4 October 2019 in Albufeira, Portugal, members of the steering group lead a plenary session together with the Coordinating Unit dedicated to promoting implementation of the Vulture MsAP.  The session included an overview presentation about the Vulture MsAP and progress on implementation, as well as short reports from the four acting Regional Coordinators.
  • During the 13th CMS Conference of the Parties (CMS COP13) in Gandhinagar, India in February 2020, members of the steering group lead two side events: "Vultures are still dying from poisoning, but the Vulture MsAP is working" to reiterate the priorities from the Vulture MsAP and to review the progress in the fight against the use of poison baits and sentinel poisoning of vultures; and "Veterinary drugs and the Vulture MsAP: A call for wider action" to highlight the growing importance of the threat of NSAIDs on vulture populations and to encourage the prompt implementation of Vulture MsAP actions.

Funding is urgently required from CMS Parties to support efforts to coordinate effective implementation of the CMS Vulture MsAP over the next decade. The Vulture MsAP Steering Group is currently functioning on a largely voluntary basis, which severely limits its activies and outputs. Please contact the Coordinating Unit of the Raptors MOU should you be interested to contribute funds to support the implementation of the Vulture MsAP. Concrete funding opportunities are outlined in the Vulture MsAP Strategic Implementation Plan.

The members of the steering group are listed below.



In October 2022, 32 stakeholders from 12 West African States gathered in Abuja, Nigeria for a three-day workshop to develop the West African Vulture Conservation Action Plan (WAVCAP). The plan was needed to respond to the imminent threat posed by belief-based use, i.e. use of whole vultures or their body parts for believed medicinal or mystical purposes identified by the West African vulture persecution threat analysis report: literature review and threat mapping.

The workshop was facilitated by the IUCN Species Survival Commission's Conservation Planning Specialist Group (CPSG) and supported by the Raptors MOU and BirdLife International. It was based on an internationally recognised core set of Species Conservation Planning Principles and Steps , with a focus on maximising collaboration and consensus-building among the stakeholders involved. 

The West Africa Vulture Conservation Plan (WAVCAP) focuses on six species of vulture found in West Africa: Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), Hooded vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus), Lappet-faced vulture (Torgos tracheliotos), Rüppell’s vulture (Gyps rueppelli), White-backed vulture (Gyps africanus), White-headed vulture (Trigonoceps occipitalis). The Action Plan focuses on 16 nations, 14 of which are members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS): Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo, with Cameroon and Chad included. Cases of vultures killed, and their parts traded for belief-based use have been reported in all these nations, with some, such as Nigeria and Benin, serving as regional "hubs" for cross-border vulture trading.

The WAVCAP is a subregional Action Plan to guide West African states in reducing the risks posed to these six vulture species. By 2043 it is hoped that the WAVCAP will have resulted in vulture population recovery to sustainable levels, protected by effective legal frameworks and living in a healthy environment, in harmony with people. Removing threats to a level where vulture populations can recover will be a complex and lengthy process. It will involve the implementation of the actions contained in this plan, learning from their impact and adapting accordingly, so that future actions can be more effective and efficient. 


Vulture MsAP Steering Group
Region Country Name Role
Andre Botha Acting Overarching Coordinator
Asia Chris Bowden Acting Regional Coordinator for Asia
Europe Jovan Andevski Acting Regional Coordinator for Europe
José Tavares Partner, Vulture Conservation Foundation
Roger Safford Partner, BirdLife International
Nicola Crockford CMS-BirdLife Liaison Officer
Middle East Saudi Arabia Mohammed Shobrak Member
Europe Israel Ohad Hatzofe Member
Europe Bulgaria Stoyan Nicolov Member (Lead for Egyptian Vulture Flyway Action Plan)
Europe Spain Ruben Moreno-Opo Member
Africa Kenya Charles Musyoki Member
Africa Ghana Nana Kofi Adu-Nsiah Member
Asia Pakistan Naeem Ashraf Raja Member
Asia India Soumitra Dasgupta Member
Fernando Spina Chair of CMS Scientific Council
Edward van Asch CITES Secretariat
Ivan Ramirez EuroSAP Project
(Head of Avian Team) CMS Secretariat (Head of CMS Avian Species Team)
(Programme Officer) CMS Secretariat (Coordinating Unit of the Raptors MOU)
Sofi Hinchliffe CMS Secretariat (Coordinating Unit of the Raptors MOU)
Africa Rebecca Garbett Acting Regional Coordinator for Africa
Last updated on 22 August 2023