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Study concludes extinction is a real threat for African vultures

Extinction is a real possibility as six out of 11 of Africa’s vulture species are uplisted to Endangered and Critically Endangered after a study by our Head of Conservation and Research.

A paper co-written by our Head of Conservation and Research, Dr Campbell Murn, has concluded that Africa’s vulture population is collapsing towards extinction.

The paper has resulted in six of 11 species of vulture to be uplisted to Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It also calls for urgent action to be taken by national governments to prevent the potential extinction of many of Africa’s vulture species.

According to the paper, Africa’s vultures are facing a range of specific threats, the most significant of which are poisoning and trade in traditional medicines, which together have accounted for 90 per cent of reported deaths.

African vultures are often the unintended victims of poisoning incidents in which carcasses are baited with highly toxic pesticides to kill carnivores such as feral dogs, lions, hyenas and jackals. There has also been a rapid increase in elephant and rhino poaching using poisons to specifically kill vultures as their overhead circling can reveal poachers’ locations. Electrocution from power lines and loss of habitat is also playing a part in the decline of Africa’s vultures.

Vultures play a key role in nature’s ecosystems, helping to clean up carcasses of animals which may otherwise spread disease and infections to humans. The uplisting to Critically Endangered means that the  work done by our International Vulture Programme is now more crucial than ever to prevent these vital species from extinction.

Read the article ‘Another continental vulture crisis: Africa’s vultures collapsing toward extinction‘ published by Conservation Letters.

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