International Vulture Awareness Day

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Today I searched a total of 25 birds, and only one of these was a warbler, while ten were Robins Erithacus rubecula, and none had lice. It seems we’ve reached the end of the African migrants, though we did have both Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis and Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus in the catch.

More importantly, today is International Vulture Awareness Day, and we’re going to make a Vulture Cake to celebrate. I will make some pictures and post later, hopefully. It is all a bit unplanned, as we didn’t know about it until the day before yesterday, but we’ll make something of it, at least.

African White-backed Vulture /Gyps africanus/ in Tanzania. According to the IUCN data, this species has declined by 90% in West Africa, but is stable in parts of East Africa. It is listed as "Endangered".

African White-backed Vulture /Gyps africanus/ in Tanzania. According to the IUCN data, this species has declined by 90% in West Africa, but is stable in parts of East Africa. It is listed as “Endangered”.

Why is there a Vulture Awareness Day? Well, vultures today face a number of challenges and, including the unrelated New World Vultures, a total of 12 of the world’s 23 species are listed as “Vulnerable” or worse in the IUCN redlist, and 15 are listed as “Decreasing” with only two listed as “Increasing”.

Apart from direct persecution, vultures in Africa are also hunted for traditional “medicinal” purposes, for meat (!), and for other purposes. They easily fall prey to poisoned carcasses planted by farmers in an attempt to kill mammalian predators, and Indian vultures have declined rapidly due to residues of diclofenac in dead livestock. According to Wikipedia, the decline in vultures is on the scale of 95-99.9% on the Indian subcontinent! They are also subject to avian influenza, and are directly threatened by changes in land use and improved disposal of rubbish and left overs from the meat industry in the third world.

The North American Turkey Vulture /Cathartes aura/ circling over the Grand Canyon. This common vulture is, fortunately, stable, and listed in IUCN as "Least Concern".

The North American Turkey Vulture /Cathartes aura/ circling over the Grand Canyon. This common vulture is, fortunately, stable, and listed in IUCN as “Least Concern”.

One response »

  1. Pingback: International Vulture Awareness Day #2 | Treeweasels

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