NCF, Birdlife seek action plan to save West Africa’s vultures
Given the migratory nature of vultures and the transboundary nature of the threats in West Africa, Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) and BirdLife International have called for a coordinated action plan to address the decline of vultures in the subregion.
The groups made the recommendation during a sub-regional vulture workshop organised by NCF and Birdlife in Abuja, which was facilitated by the IUCN Conservation Planning Specials Group and brought together more than 30 participants from 13 different countries including Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) National Focal Points, Raptors MOU National Contact Points, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) National Authorities, other government representatives, as well as academia and non-governmental organisations.
The workshop was staged to develop an action plan to address key threats to vultures within the subregion – specifically those caused by human activities.
Vultures play a vital role in our environment, keeping it free of decaying carcasses, yet these majestic birds have experienced catastrophic declines, with populations of all African vulture species plummeting by 70-97 per cent over the last 50 years.
In West Africa, the widespread killing of vultures for belief-based use, where it is thought that vulture heads and other body parts have special powers and can bring good luck to users, threatens to wipe out the stronghold populations of these critically endangered birds.
“Nigeria is leading the effort to address the belief-based use by developing and promoting plant-based alternatives to vulture towards engaging vulture users and traders on sustainable practices. The outcome of this workshop will be shared with the government and help improve the current process of strengthened wildlife legislation and policy in Nigeria,” said NCF Director General, Dr. Joseph Onoja said.
“This workshop gives us hope that we can quickly and urgently implement actions to halt these declines,” said Vulture Conservation Coordinator, Africa, BirdLife International, Salisha Chandra.
During the workshop, participants focussed on four main factors affecting vultures in the sub-region including the killing of vultures for belief-based use, trade and use of vultures for belief-based use, cultural perceptions and beliefs around vultures, and indirect persecution.
NCF Vulture Project Coordinator, Mr. Solomon Adefolu, said the workshop has improved his understanding of the West African challenges peculiar to vultures and the possible solutions that can be prioritised especially in the operationalisation of the action plan.