Did you know that vulture populations have declined by an average of 68% across all species over the past 30 years? A group of African vulture experts conducted and published an analysis of population trends for all African vultures in 2015 and this is what they found.
Some species such as the White-headed vulture, Rüppell’s vulture, White-backed vulture, and Hooded vulture are now listed as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List for threatened species. The Cape vulture, Lappet-faced vulture, and Egyptian vulture are listed as endangered species. That means that seven of the 11 species of vultures found in Africa are listed as either endangered or critically endangered, which makes them one of the most threatened groups of terrestrial birds on earth.
Andre Botha, manager of the Vultures for Africa Programme at the Endangered Wildlife Trust, answered a few of our questions regarding the conservation of vultures.
How many species do we find here in SA?
There are currently seven resident and breeding species that occur in South Africa, namely the Cape-, African White-backed-, Lappet-faced-, Hooded-, White-headed-, Bearded- and Palm-nut vulture. Rüppell’s vulture occurs as a rare vagrant from East Africa that sometimes reaches our part of the world. Sadly, the Egyptian vulture, which used to be resident and breeding in South Africa has been considered extinct as a breeding species from South Africa for several decades. Although stray individuals are however recorded from time to time.
Are vultures dangerous?
Vultures pose no threat to man or domestic animals, and most species are not equipped to attack and catch their own food. Humans are far more dangerous to vultures.
What is their biggest threat?
In Africa, the most significant threat vultures face comes in the form of poisoning. Birds either are killed as unintentional victims of human-wildlife conflict situations. For example, when livestock owners or agriculturalists try to protect their livestock or crops against losses due to predation by carnivores or damage by a range of herbivores, rodents or primates that can raid crops and cause substantial damage.
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June - July 2020