The first Saturday in September each year is International Vulture Awareness Day. Vultures are an ecologically vital group of birds that face a range of threats in many areas that they occur. Populations of many species are under pressure and some species are facing extinction. The International Vulture Awareness Day has grown from Vulture Awareness Days run by the Birds of Prey Programme of the Endangered Wildlife Trust in South Africa and the Hawk Conservancy Trust in England, who decided to work together and expand the initiative into an international event. It is now recognised that a co-ordinated international day will publicise the conservation of vultures to a wider audience and highlight the important work being carried out by the world’s vulture conservationists.

 On the first Saturday in September, the aim is for each participating organisation to carry out their own activities that highlight vulture conservation and awareness. These misunderstood birds are extremely important members of an ecosystem – flying in from huge distances to pick decaying carcasses clean, thereby helping to prevent disease outbreaks. A world without vultures would be a foul-smelling place filled with disease and rotting carcasses across our landscape. This clean-up crew essentially helps to maintain the functioning and health of an ecosystem. Vultures are equipped with a digestive system that contains special acids that are able to dissolve anthrax, botulism and even cholera bacteria. The excess rotting carcasses can result in an increase of scavenging carnivores, both wild and feral, which lead to further consequences caused by an imbalance in the system and the spread of other harmful diseases like rabies.

Threats to Vultures

Due to their unique habits, vultures face a multitude of threats, which include direct and indirect poisoning, electrocutions and collisions with energy infrastructure and habitat loss.

 Work Being Done to Save Vultures

Wildlife ACT works closely with partners such as Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, The Endangered Wildlife Trust, BirdLife SA and the National Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries to help protect vultures in South Africa. Annual nest surveys are carried out to monitor breeding success and long-term trends in nesting pair abundance which is used to measure the health of current vulture population.      

 About the Author: Wardah Razzaq is a graduate of environment from University of the Punjab, Lahore. She is an environmentalist by profession and by passion, an environmental and climate change activist, climate reality leader, sustainable development goals advocate (ambassador of sustainability), member of Eco-Club Pakistan and a green blogger. She is envisioned, determined, and committed at raising the awareness among the masses regarding the various environmental issues and about their impacts and solutions and that how they can become the responsible citizens of Pakistan. She loves to write on nature, environment, climate and sustainable development.