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A new president for the VCF: Daniel Hegglin hands over to Hans Pohlmann

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Daniel Hegglin (left) and Hans Pohlmann (right)

Daniel Hegglin stepped down as President of the Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF) at the end of 2020, and Hans Pohlmann was elected to overtake the presidency by the beginning of 2021. Daniel will remain in the management board and overtake from Hans the position as Vice-President.

Daniel Hegglin: A grateful look back and a confident look into the future

Daniel Hegglin with a young Bearded Vulture ready for release into the wild

I would like to look back to 2011. As Executive Director of the Swiss Foundation Pro Bearded Vulture, I was invited to join the Management Board of the VCF. I accepted the offer to contribute to the protection of the vulture world at the European level with great enthusiasm. It was very inspiring for me to get the opportunity to work in the circle of such renown vulture experts and close together with some of the “founding fathers” of vulture conservation.

During this time, the VCF was in a phase of change with major structural and financial challenges. As a newcomer and with the bonus of being a “neutral Swiss”, I was asked to accompany this process as President of the organization. I had great respect for this work. In the end, however, it was the many wonderful colleagues and friends in the VCF that tipped the scales in my favour and made me embark on this adventure in 2012.

Today I am grateful that I was able to accompany the journey of the VCF so closely over the past years. Our ship was a bit damaged at the beginning of our journey. But thanks to a fantastic team, the truly outstanding leadership of our director, José Tavares, and great support from the MAVA Foundation, we have managed to gradually stabilize our ship and pick up more speed every year. I am very proud to be part of this team and happy that today we are a big strong organization that can achieve a lot for vulture conservation together with so many dedicated partner organizations across Europe and elsewhere.

For private reasons, I am unable to find the time that I feel is necessary to fully fulfil my role as President of our Foundation any longer. I have therefore decided to step down from this position by the end of 2020. 

I regret this step as it has always been a great pleasure to be able to contribute to the work of the VCF and such a great team in this role. At the same time, I am very pleased that we have found an excellent replacement for this post and to announce that we elected Hans Pohlmann as new President of the VCF!  

Hans, who will take over my function from the beginning of next year, is part of the management board since 2017. During this time (and even before that) he has given a great support to the VCF in many ways and with an outstanding degree of professionality and an extraordinary commitment. I would like to congratulate Hans warmly on his election as President. I am very pleased with this solution and I am convinced that in this function Hans will contribute significantly to the further growth of VCF.

Although I am stepping down as President, I want to continue to support the work of the VCF as much as I can. Therefore, I look forward to contributing to our work in the position of Vice President from 2021 onwards.

I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all those who have supported us so strongly over the past years. I would like to thank all our donors, and especially the MAVA Foundation for their trust and great support. I also extend my heartfelt thanks to all our partner organizations who have made it possible for us to achieve so much together. A big thank you also goes to the Advisory and Management Boards for their dedicated support. Last but not least, I would like to thank our great team and José Tavares for their wonderful work, their incredible commitment from the bottom of my heart. It has always been a great honour for me to work with you in this way. 

Our journey continues and I am very optimistic about the future of the VCF. I wish you all the best for the New Year, and I am already looking forward to working together in the coming years!

Hans Pohlmann: An absolute honour

First acquaintance of Hans Pohlmann with the VCF after rescue of a released Bearded Vulture

My first acquaintance with the Vulture Conservation Foundation was in 2015. After observing a wild-hatched Bearded Vulture, I had the opportunity to be involved in the rehabilitating a weakened Bearded Vulture, that wandered into the Netherlands. I actually returned the bird to Switzerland. Within the 2 weeks of rehabilitation of this bird, I was in close contact with the staff of the VCF. The knowledge and dedication of the staff made, and continue to make, a big impression. At this point, I decided to try to get involved in vulture conservation.

Little could I have known then, I would have the honour to join the VCF in 2017 and now will be in the position of President. This is an absolute honour! But it is also a humbling experience, to be able to follow-up Daniel Hegglin as the President of the VCF. The VCF has a lot to thank Daniel for. When he took the position of President, he found the foundation in dire straits. With his diplomacy, wisdom and deep knowledge, he was able to get the VCF in the position we are in now — a well-known and recognized organization in the field of vulture conservation! As I know Daniel, he will now say that he could not have done this without José Tavares (our great director), the staff and all our partners in the field. He is of course, right on that, but the very important and leading role Daniel has in the development needs to be acknowledged! So, Daniel: thank you for your hard work in all those years, and I am very happy that you will continue to be in the Management Board.

As President of the VCF, I hope to continue the path that Daniel, José, the staff, the Management Board and the Advisory Board have laid out for the VCF. A foundation with great people working there, a huge and wide network all over Europe with our partners, funders and supporters and an important position within the world of scavenger conservation. On this conservation, there is still a lot of work to be done. Although 3 out of 4 species are recovering, their distribution is still limited, and we need to continue to work to link the separate subpopulations together. To achieve that, a lot of threats still need to be removed, research has to be done and reintroductions of specific birds in various locations need to be carried out in the coming years. And as the 4th species, the Egyptian Vulture, is still in decline, this species deserves particular attention. The knowledgeable staff will do the actual work on conservation and our partners in the field, and of course is only possible thanks to our funders, especially the MAVA Foundation. I will do my very best to make this possible, by further professionalizing the organization, mainly behind the scenes. I truly hope the VCF can count on your support, to be able to continue the very important work we are doing. Together 4 Vultures!

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