International Vulture Awareness Day 2022

Vultures are among the most threatened raptors within the Raptors MOU range.

Vultures provide a critically important ecosystem service by cleaning up carcasses and other organic waste in the environment. thereby preventing the spread of diseases and reducing pathogenic risks to humans. 

The International Vulture Awareness Day (IVAD) is celebrated on the first Saturday of September each year. IVAD is an internationally coordinated day that aims to raise awareness of the threats this special group of raptors currently faces and to promote the many conservation initiatives taking place in Africa, Europe and Asia. The occasion is an opportunity to show our appreciation for vultures and the ecosystem services they provide.

Visit the IVAD website to get involved and download resources to help raise awareness of the importance of vulture conservation.

Vultures are under severe threat, 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. Since then, the veterinary use of Diclofenac has been banned by many state governments across India, and in Nepal, Pakistan Bangladesh, Iran, Cambodia, Oman, and other countries are also considering following suit. However, Diclofenac is still in use in parts of Europe and Africa despite the availability of alternative non-toxic drugs, such as meloxicam and tolfenamic acid. More information on the issue can be found here.

More recently, attention has been drawn to belief-based uses of vulture parts in Africa. Since early 2020, several poisoning events have occurred in Guinea Bissau and other West African countries (totalling over 2500 deaths to date) and in August 2022 over 150 vultures were poisoned in South Africa and Botswana. In the majority of these cases, the corpse’s were found with missing heads, legs or internal organs, indicating that the driver behind these killings was the use of vulture parts in traditional medicine. Market surveys in West Africa have revealed that illegal and unregistered trade of vulture’s body parts across international borders exists in the region.

To address this threat the CMS Raptors MOU, in collaboration with local and international NGOs, is supporting the organization of a workshop in Nigeria as a crucial step toward the development of a West Africa Action Plan addressing vulture persecution in the region. This Action Plan will contribute to the recommendations from the CITES Animal Committee to be discussed at CITES COP later this year.

Reversing the dramatic declines in vulture populations is a long-term challenge and the Coordinating Unit of the CMS Raptors MOU stands ready to work collaboratively with Range State governments, international organizations, and the research and conservation community to ensure that this precious goal is achieved.

Last updated on 31 August 2022