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24 Mar 2017

Vultures need you

African & Eurasian Vultures are in severe trouble—most species perilously close to extinction. We're calling for contributions to a new 12-year Action Plan to save them.

Griffon Vultures © Markus Varesvuo / Agami
Griffon Vultures © Markus Varesvuo / Agami
By Shaun Hurrell

Let’s face it: vultures are special. Part of human culture, they are seen as disgusting by some, yet loved by others (including us and you). Asia’s vultures have suffered some of the fastest population declines ever recorded in a bird, and Africa’s recent severe declines mean that now most old-world vultures are on the edge of extinction. With a unique scavenging niche, this group of birds clean our landscapes and help to prevent the spread of disease—among the many reasons why we are doing all we can to save them. BirdLife’s vulture campaign has already shown how many people love and value vultures, and now there is a chance for some of you to input technical comments on the draft plan that sets out how best to conserve them.

Today we promote a public consultation on a new draft Multi-Species Action Plan to conserve African-Eurasian Vultures, launched by the Coordinating Unit of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) Raptors MOU, in collaboration with BirdLife International, Vulture Conservation Foundation and the IUCN Vulture Specialist Group. (The CMS Raptors MoU is the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia—an international, legally non-binding agreement to protect migratory birds of prey.)

In total, 127 countries are lucky to have recorded vultures in their skies.

This plan, if adopted by the Parties to CMS in October this year, would mean these countries being requested to take decisive action over twelve years to save vultures. The Plan would also guide states that are not Parties to CMS, as well as many other actors. This includes actions to protect vultures across Africa, Asia and Europe from all of threats sadly faced by these birds: poisoning, persecution, collision with energy infrastructure, habitat loss, and many more.

Whilst we are doing all we can to ensure a future for these special birds it is, above all, Governments that have the resources to solve this problem at the huge scale required.

An adopted Action Plan would also guide foreign investors and international agencies on how to take vulture conservation into account in development plans and projects.

The Action Plan identifies and concerns all relevant stakeholders in vulture conservation, from the health sector to renewable energy developers, trade regulation bodies and many others. So, if you are: a national governmental authority (e.g. Environment Ministry, Wildlife and Forest Service, etc.), conservation organisation, university, research institution, consultant, technical expert, ornithologist, or someone interested in the conservation of the African-Eurasian vultures, please get in touch to contribute to this technical document.

Together, we can achieve the objectives of the Action Plan: rapidly halt current population declines in all the species it covers; reverse recent population trends to bring the conservation status of each species back to a favourable level; and, provide conservation management guidelines applicable to all Range States covered by the Plan.

The only African-Eurasian vulture species not included in the Plan is the Palm-nut Vulture, nicknamed the “vegetarian vulture”, which is not currently threatened by the largest problems faced by others. But for the rest, action must be taken immediately. Eight out of 15 African-Eurasian vulture species are Critically Endangered. Three are Endangered and two are Near Threatened.

Vultures need you, now:

The Convention on Migratory Species, together with BirdLife and partners, are calling for technical feedback on the draft Multi-Species Action Plan to Conserve African-Eurasian Vultures (Vulture MsAP). Almost 300 government officials, partners, vulture specialists and other interested individuals have already contributed to its development, but your expertise can help shape this important plan:

  • Do you have information on the status of vultures, or threats to their survival (that are not already included in the document)?
  • What new solutions to threats facing vultures do you think should also be included?
  • Or, if everything has been covered, please let us know if you support the plan in its current state.

You have less than a month to input for vulture conservation, so please be fast.

Comments on the 2nd Draft Vulture MsAP should be submitted via email to cmsoffice.ae@cms.int by 16 April 2017.  All comments received during the consultation period will be reviewed and, where appropriate, integrated into a final version of the Vulture MsAP, due to be completed by mid-May 2017 for formal submission to the CMS Secretariat.  The Vulture MsAP is expected to be considered by Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) at the 12th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP12), scheduled to be held in Manila, Philippines in October 2017.

Important information: