The world’s biggest conservation Partnership – BirdLife International – has announced that vultures have rapidly become one of the most threatened families of birds on the planet.
In a bid to stop this important family of birds slipping towards extinction in Europe and Africa, a global campaign asking for public support to Stop Vulture Poisoning has been launched.
Following recent catastrophic declines of vultures in Asia that left landscapes littered with carcasses, vultures in Europe and Africa may be set to follow unless we act now – warned conservationists from BirdLife International.
Vultures are important and essential for our health: “Vultures play a fundamental role that no other birds do: they clean our landscapes”, said Iván Ramírez, Head of Conservation for BirdLife International in Europe and Central Asia. Yet they are facing new and massive threats across Europe and Africa.
A veterinary drug that is lethally toxic to vultures has been discovered to be commercially available in at least two European countries. Used to treat inflammation in livestock, this is the same drug (diclofenac) that has wiped out 99% of vultures in India, Pakistan and Nepal.
At the same time, vultures in Africa are facing increasing threats from poisoning (deliberate and accidental), persecution for body parts to be used in traditional medicine, habitat loss, collision with power-lines, and more.
“Three of every four old-world vulture species are already globally threatened with extinction or Near Threatened according the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species”, said Kariuki Ndanganga, BirdLife Africa’s Species Programme Manager.
“Unless threats are identified and tackled quickly and effectively, vultures in Africa and Europe could face extinction within our lifetime.”
Nigeria formally hosts seven species of vulture namely: Egyptian Vulture- Neophronpercnopterus (Endangered), Hooded Vulture - Necrosyrtesmonachus (Endangered), White-backedGyps africanus (Endangered), White-headed - Trigonocepsoccipitalis (Vulnerable), Ruppell’s Griffon -Gyps rueppellii (Endangered), Palm-nut Vulture - Gypohieraxangolensis (Least Concern) and Lappet-faced Vulture -Torgos tracheliotus.
Five of these species in Nigeria have a highly vulnerable status and have even gone locally extinct in some part of the country .The only species that seems to be thriving in the country are the Hooded Vulture- Necrosyrtesmonachus and Palm-nut Vulture- Gypohieraxangolensis, said Ruth Akagu, Species Officer at the Nigerian Conservation Foundation
“Following a recent study on the current status of vulture in Nigeria, result indicated that their distribution ranges have been severely restricted over the past 20 to 30 years, as vultures are no longer sighted where they ones thrive in huge numbers”, concluded Akagu.