The majority of vulture species in Africa are listed as critically endangered. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List status of African-Eurasian vultures has seen drastic changes for the worse in recent years. Unless effective conservation action is implemented or expanded across the range of these birds, there is a significant likelihood that several of these species will indeed become extinct in the near future. The main reason for this is major population declines driven by poisoning, both intentional and otherwise. However, several other threats have been identified. A Multi-species Action Plan to Conserve African-Eurasian Vultures (Vulture MsAP) under the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) has now been agreed upon and developed.
Vultures are a characteristic, distinctive and spectacular component of the biodiversity of the environments they inhabit. They also provide critical ecosystem services by cleaning up carcasses and other organic waste in the environment which, if left to rot, has huge ramifications for the spread of diseases in both wild and domestic animals, and pathogenic risks to humans.
Recent studies of the movement of vultures using satellite telemetry have shown the vast cyclical movements undertaken by this group of species. Accordingly, conservation actions can only be effective if implemented at the flyway level, which requires a broad approach and the engagement of all Range States. This realization, and the wider appreciation of the seriousness of the African Vulture crisis, in addition to that already known in Asia, and increasing threats to vultures elsewhere, have been key catalysing factors that led to swift international agreement on the urgent need to develop a Multi-species Action Plan to Conserve African-Eurasian Vultures (Vulture MsAP) under the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).
The Vulture MsAP, the result of extensive consultation with stakeholders, conservation and species experts, has the following aims:
- To rapidly halt current population declines in all species covered by the Vulture MsAP;
- To reverse recent population trends to bring the conservation status of each species back to a favourable level;
- To provide conservation management guidelines applicable to all Range States covered by the Vulture MsAP.
The Vulture MsAP aims to provide a comprehensive, strategic conservation Action Plan covering the geographic ranges of all 15 species of migratory African-Eurasian vultures and to promote concerted, collaborative and coordinated international actions towards the recovery of these populations to acceptable levels by 2029. The species that are the focus of this plan are:
These 15 species are all listed in Annex I of the CMS Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey (Raptors MOU). The remaining Old World vulture species, Palm-nut Vulture Gypohierax angolensis, is excluded from the Vulture MsAP because it is not considered a migratory species and is treated as Least Concern in the Red List. A total of 128 Range States host populations of one or more species of African-Eurasian vultures and are included within the geographic range of the Vulture MsAP. – Press release