Southern Africa’s vulture populations are in serious decline. Of the six species found in South Africa, all are classified as either endangered or critically endangered. In some areas populations have declined by up to 90% and current trends in important sub-populations of these species, such as in KwaZulu-Natal, are indicating that all breeding pairs of White-Headed Vultures and Lappet-Faced Vultures will be locally extinct within the next few years.
- White-Headed Vulture (Trigonoceps occipitalis): Critically Endangered
- White-Backed Vulture (Gyps africanus): Critically Endangered
- Lappet-Faced Vulture (Torgos tracheliotos): Endangered
- Hooded Vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus): Critically Endangered
- Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres): Endangered
- Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus): Critically Endangered
WHY ARE VULTURES IMPORTANT?
The crucial ecosystem services that vultures provide in our environment is grossly underestimated and goes largely under-appreciated. These incredible scavengers are remarkably efficient at disposing of rotting carcasses and reducing the spread of disease among wildlife, livestock and across to humans and therefore they play a critical role in protecting humans from the ever-increasing global risk of disease transmission and potential future zoonotic pandemics.
HOW DO WE SAVE OUR VULTURES?
The Zululand Vulture Project was initiated to provide guidance on the conservation management of vultures in KwaZulu-Natal, according to the KwaZulu-Natal Vulture Conservation Strategy. We work with our partners to conserve all the vulture species found in northern KZN region, namely the Lappet-faced Vulture, the White-backed Vulture, and the White-headed Vulture, ensuring the preservation of the birds for future generations.
Current vulture initiatives being carried out by this project:
- Population Stabilisation and Habitat Protection through monitoring of vultures to accurately identify vulture hotspots, establishing and securing vulture safe zones, the protection and monitoring of nest sites, rapid response to poisoning events, training field operatives on how to handle poisoned birds to ensure they are saved and reducing vulture exposure to lead poisoning by phasing out of lead-based ammunition and the safe disposal of lead contaminated carcasses.
- Education and Community Conservation through education programs, especially to the youth, about the role vultures play in the ecosystem and the value they provide, researching the drivers and demand for vulture parts in the traditional medicine sector, development of meaningful demand-reduction campaigns which will lead to the reduction of vulture poisoning for their body parts.
- Improved Advocacy through training field operatives on how to handle poisoning (crime) scenes to ensure convictions can occur, working with the provincial and judicial authorities to improve law enforcement and judicial processes, researching the economic value of the species to further advocate for their protection.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Aside from much-needed donor funding support, you can help us by spreading awareness about vulture conservation and by reporting tagged vulture sightings. If you see a tagged vulture in Southern Africa, please record the identification number and species (if possible) along with the GPS (or physical) location. If you can, snap a photograph of the animal with the ID tag displayed. This information can be passed onto firstname.lastname@example.org