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One step closer to the Vulture multi-Species Action Plan

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The International Vulture multi-Species Action Plan, that the VCF, BirdLife International, and the IUCN Vulture Specialist Group are developing under a contract from the Coordinating Unit of the Raptors MoU under the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), is now being consolidated at an expert meeting in Toledo, Spain. The plan aims to prevent the further decline of vultures which are nature’s primary scavengers, providing indispensable ecological services as carrion feeders and disposers of disease-carrying carcasses.

A single international action plan covering multiple species that occur in more than 120 countries is a new approach, which will complement and build upon existing conservation initiatives. This umbrella strategy for scavengers facing the same threats and using the same habitats is required to promote a major step-change in the conservation efforts for this spectacular group of birds.

Following population declines of 95 per cent in Africa and Asia in recent decades, most vulture species in Africa, Asia and Europe are now threatened with extinction. An international Action Plan being developed for 15 species of Old World Vultures extending to 124 range countries. This Multi-species Action Plan has been developed in cooperation with experts in different regions to understand the differing threats and to engage people in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.  

A first draft has already been prepared and is now being consolidated in the Toledo workshop. It includes the most up-to-date population status reports of the species and a detailed analysis of the threats that are affecting these important birds. In India, vultures are poisoned by diclofenac used for veterinary purposes, while in Africa the scavengers are intentionally targeted by poachers to cover up their activities so the authorities are not alerted to the location of their crimes.  Some birds are also poisoned for their body parts to be used in witchcraft.  In Europe poison, electrocution at power poles and collisions with power infrastructure, including wind farms are still major threats. The Action Plan includes solutions to address the most imminent threats. The overarching Action Plan will be applicable throughout the ranges of all species and aims to promote a step-change in collaborative international conservation efforts

The final draft will be sent for public consultation in the next few weeks – we encourage you all to contribute (more news soon in the VCF webpage). A final version of the Action Plan will be submitted to the 12th Meeting of the Conference to the Parties to CMS to be held from 23 to 28 October in Manila for adoption.

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