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Vultures took center stage at the COP12 CMS – more protection for 10 species and the vulture Multispecies Action Plan approved!

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The Vulture Conservation Foundation is proud to have played a key role in bringing more protection – and hope –  to threatened vultures in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa, as the Vulture Multispecies Action Plan (Vulture MsAP) – a new and far-reaching global conservation plan for 15 species of vultures in 128 countries, has been adopted at the recent Conference of the Parties (COP12) to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), held in Manila (Philippines) last week.

Vultures are truly spectacular birds.  They are Nature’s garbage collectors and provide critical ecosystem services, cleaning up carcasses and other organic waste in the environment, thus reducing the spread of dangerous diseases.  By doing so, they provide highly significant economic and human health benefits.  Unfortunately, vultures are under extreme pressure from a range of human activities and are one of the most threatened groups of birds on earth

In the last 30 years, drastic and widespread population declines have been observed, beginning with the catastrophic collapse of species in South Asia, followed more recently by a similar crisis on the African continent.  Most species of Old World vultures are now classified as either Endangered or Critically Endangered at global level on the IUCN Red List.

The Vulture MsAP identifies poisoning in various forms (both unintentional and otherwise) as the main threat to Old World vultures.  But there are many other dangers that are exerting significant pressures on populations, such as electrocution and collision with energy infrastructure, lack of food availability, habitat degradation and destruction, as well as human disturbance at nesting and roosting sites.  More importantly, the plan sets out a Framework of 124 Actions to address these threats, including priorities, timelines and key stakeholders who need to be involved.

The Vulture MsAP aims to rapidly halt current population declines, reverse these trends to bring the conservation status of all 15 species back to a favourable level, and to provide management guidelines applicable to all Range States. The newly-adopted Vulture MsAP is indeed a step change in global vulture conservation efforts, and mean that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The VCF has been working tirelessly in the last 18 months to drive the development of this global plan, and now that it is adopted, we hope that concerted conservation action to address the negative trends in vulture populations start in earnest.

The Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) have taken another momentous decision to promote the conservation of Old World vultures by agreeing to list ten species on Appendix I of the Convention.  This affords a species the highest level of protection available under CMS.  In addition to preventing killing and taking, the listing also requires Parties to protect species’ habitats and to address the threats to their populations.  The ten species are: Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus; White-headed Vulture Trigonoceps occipitalis; Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus; White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis; White-backed Vulture Gyps africanus; Indian Vulture Gyps indicus; Slender-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris; Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres; Rüppell’s Vulture Gyps rueppelli; and, Lappet-faced Vulture Torgos tracheliotos.


The VCF is honoured to have played a key role in this essential conservation work for these iconic birds. But the real work starts now. The plan was just the first step, as the declines are still happening – now we need to implement it!

You can download the executive summary of the plan below

Download vulture-msap_summary_e.pdf Adobe Acrobat Document 3.7 MB Download

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