Four pairs of Asian White-backed Vultures are incubating eggs at our breeding centre in Changa Manga in Pakistan. If all eggs hatch, this will be the most successful year to date for the centre. There are now 21 vultures at the facility, including 15 adults and 6 younger birds. We have successfully fledged two chicks each year between 2016 and 2018 and for 2019, in our most promising year so far, there are four breeding pairs of vultures who are currently incubating eggs! We have cameras installed to keep track of their progress, and we are very hopeful that there will be four new additions to our flock in a few weeks time!
We have been working to conserve vultures in Pakistan for the past 12 years, partnered with WWF-Pakistan, since populations of vultures in this region plummeted by more than 99.9% as a result of a veterinary drug called Diclofenac. Our captive breeding centre in Changa Manga Forest Reserve is the only conservation initiative in Pakistan that is dedicated to holding a safe population of Critically Endangered Asian White-backed Vultures with the aim of releasing birds into the wild. The centre has a large main aviary, and four smaller aviaries, and livestock enclosures. The project aims to maintain a healthy captive population of these vultures so they can breed naturally with the ultimate aim of releasing birds into the wild.
All the birds are monitored on a daily basis, and a vet makes regular visits to the centre to ensure the birds are healthy, as shown in the photo below. During the breeding season, the birds are fed seven days a week to ensure the fast-growing chicks are provided with enough food. Every year, all the nests in the aviary are repaired and cleaned and old nesting material is replaced with fresh branches and sticks for the vultures to build their nests. The perches are repaired, and new ones are installed where needed. A variety of perches and nesting materials are provided so vultures can carry out the same natural behaviours they would in the wild. The centre is also very important for education and in 2018 more than 1500 students visited to learn about the importance and conservation of vultures in Pakistan. Find out more about this project.