How can we help endangered vultures?

 We might have to get very creative in our conservation approaches if we are to boost declining numbers of vultures, zoologists say.

We might have to get very creative in our conservation approaches if we are to boost declining numbers of vultures, zoologists say.

Zoologists from the School of Natural Sciences at Trinity College Dublin are proposing an ingenious idea to help conserve populations of African white-backed vultures. The iconic birds, which play a critical role in sustaining healthy ecosystems, may need to dine for free in human-staffed ‘vulture restaurants’ if they are to survive spells of food scarcity in Swaziland and neighbouring countries.

Throughout Africa, vulture populations have suffered an alarming collapse in numbers in recent years. In rural parts of West Africa some species have declined by over 95%, while the famous Maasai Mara National Reserve has lost an average of 62% of its vultures over the past three decades. Aside from poisoning – both targeted and incidental – vultures are threatened by wind turbines, electricity pylons, habitat destruction, food loss and poaching. Continue reading

Europe’s vultures under threat from drug that killed millions of birds in Asia

A Spanish griffon vulture. Vultures in Europe could be under threat from approval of the use of the drug diclofenac in Italy and Spain. Photograph: Chris Hellier/CORBIS

A Spanish griffon vulture. Vultures in Europe could be under threat from approval of the use of the drug diclofenac in Italy and Spain. Photograph: Chris Hellier/CORBIS

Wildlife groups have launched a Europe-wide campaign to outlaw a newly approved veterinary drug that has caused the deaths of tens of millions of vultures in Asia. They say that the decision to allow diclofenac to be used in Spain and Italy not only threatens to wipe out Europe’s vultures but could harm other related species, including the golden eagle and the Spanish imperial eagle, one of the world’s rarest raptors. Continue reading

Buzzard protection focus of Savannah River Ecology Lab study

Birds that get their sustenance from eating dead animals are the focus of a local study aimed at keeping them alive.

Amanda Holland, a University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources graduate student, helps tag a vulture.

Amanda Holland, a University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources graduate student, helps tag a vulture.

Vultures, or scavenging birds that feed on carrion, have been on the decline in recent decades in many places across the globe. Jim Beasley, an assistant research scientist at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, wants to make sure that buzzards stick around in Georgia and South Carolina.

“Vultures are one of the species people tend to turn a blind eye to. They don’t have a lot of relevance to people,” said Beasley, one of several scientists leading a study that’s looking for a method to protect vultures.
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