Griffon Vulture © Angel Sanchez
Abu Dhabi, 3 September 2020 - Vultures are a charismatic and ecologically vital group of birds. An often under looked species, they provide critically important ecosystem services by cleaning up carcasses and other organic waste in the environment. As nature’s clean-up crew, they prevent the spread of diseases from decomposing carcasses, reducing pathogenic risks to humans.
The first Saturday in September each year is designated as International Vulture Awareness Day (IVAD) and is a way to show our appreciation for vultures and the ecosystem services they provide. The initiative is run jointly by the Birds of Prey Programme of the Endangered Wildlife Trust in South Africa and the Hawk Conservancy Trust in England. IVAD aims to raise awareness of the threats that vultures are currently facing and promote concerted actions to support and conserve these iconic species. Visit the IVAD website to get involved and download resources to help raise awareness of the importance of vulture conservation.
Vultures have been placed under severe threat in recent years, particularly due to poisoning. Globally, 75% of all vultures are threatened with extinction according to the IUCN Red List. During the 1990s, vulture populations in South Asia declined by 99% over a single decade due to poisoning by diclofenac, a Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drug (NSAID) used to treat cattle. In 2006, veterinary use of diclofenac was banned by governments across India, Nepal and Pakistan and more recently in Bangladesh, Iran and Cambodia. However, it is still in use in parts of Europe and Africa although there are alternative non-toxic drugs available such as meloxicam.
The CMS Multi-species Action Plan to Conserve African-Eurasian Vultures (Vulture MsAP) provides a strategic conservation plan covering all 15 species of migratory African-Eurasian vultures and has called for the withdrawal and replacement of veterinary use of vulture-toxic NSAIDs as a priority conservation activity. In addition, CMS Resolution 11.15 (Rev.COP13) Preventing Poisoning of Migratory Birds, urges parties that are range states of Vultures and other scavenging Raptors to: (i) ensure safety testing of existing and new veterinary NSAIDs; (ii) withdraw licensing of vulture-toxic NSAIDs (including diclofenac) for veterinary use; and (iii) contribute to the identifcation and promotion of safe alternative drugs.
In February 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 completed, ongoing and planned to date including those related to the Vulture MsAP Objective 2 regarding minimizing the mortality of vultures by NSAIDs. The Strategic Implementation Plan provides a road map to assist all stakeholders to take forward the evolving picture of needs, priorities and opportunities. Governments, relevant agencies, organisations and others are encouraged to use the framework to identify and strengthen the contributions they can each make to action and objective under the Vulture MsAP.
Reversing the dramatic declines in vulture populations is a long-term challenge and the Coordinating Unit of the Raptors MOU stands ready to work collaboratively with Range State governments, international organisations, and the research and conservation community to ensure that this precious goal is achieved.
Last updated on 03 September 2020