Eleven species of vulture occur on the African continent and the populations of these species have declined considerably. The range and extent of threats facing these species is varied, but include poisoning, habitat loss, and collection for food and witchcraft.
The Vulture Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, working with the Birds of Prey Programme of the Endangered Wildlife Trust and The Peregrine Fund and their partners in the African Raptor Network, aimed to assess the population status of all African vulture species and identify and initiate the implementation of appropriate conservation interventions and actions to attempt to effectively address the key threats to these birds from a continental perspective. This initiative was generously sponsored by the US Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife without Borders Programme and Sasol Limited.
To achieve this, a Pan African Vulture Summit was convened in the Masai Mara, Kenya with the support of the Masai Mara Authorities on April 16-20, 2012 and invited input from a wide range of vulture specialists, researchers and government wildlife representatives from across the continent to provide input from a local perspective and to devise and promote the implementation of a Pan-African Vulture Conservation Plan that will address the above needs. The Plan aims to provide a broad framework for effective conservation action that can be adjusted to suit the situation and needs of individual regions, countries and areas and to facilitate the implementation of action in areas where there currently is little or no focus on the conservation of vultures.
“The time for effective and coordinated action to prevent the continued decline of vultures throughout the continent is now and it is vital that countries and communities acknowledge and understand the critically important ecosystem service that vultures provide, both to the environment and humanity” said Senior Scientist Charles Musyoki of the Kenya Wildlife Service during his opening address at the Summit.
A further result of the summit was the drafting of a resolution as a means to adhering African governments and other institutions to conserve vultures and reduce known vulture threats across the continent. The document was signed by all of almost 40 delegates that attended the Summit and will be sent to all governments that fall within the range of distribution of Africa’s vultures.
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