BirdLife: The Magazine September 2017 - Page 24

GOING SOUTH VULTURE CONSERVATION ACTION FROM A COMPLEX CONTINENT Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres (Endangered). Photo Marietjie Froneman in a workshop organised by BirdLife Botswana in collaboration with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks. “NEW FARMERS KEEP ASKING US HOW TO BECOME VULTURE-SAFE” RESOLUTION TO COMBAT ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE IN SOUTHWEST NIGERIA Nigerian Conservation Foundation (BirdLife Partner) brought together enforcement and prosecution agencies, traditional healers associ- ations, government, women wildlife trade asso- ciations, and religious associations, for all to sign an agreement to decrease trade in bushmeat and vulture parts. Vulture Safe Zone sign erected at a farm in Chisamba. Photo BirdWatch Zambia MORE VULTURE SAFE FARMS IN ZAMBIA More large private farms in Chisamba have been declared Vulture Safe Zones (VSZ), thanks to per- sistent awareness work by BirdWatch Zambia (BirdLife Partner), seeded by the BirdLife Vulture Appeal. And thanks to new resultant funding, the successful model is now being scaled-up to the Kafue Flats, a known breeding area, and the Luangwa Valley, an area very close to the location of Zambia’s worst vulture poisoning incidents. 0 AFRICA NOTORIOUS ELEPHANT POACHER ARRESTED IN ZIMBABWE The worst poisoning incident in Hwange National Park was reported in October 2013, where over 135 elephants died from the lacing of a watering hole with cyanide. This consequently killed 219 vultures. The suspected culprit has now been caught, but elephant poaching via poisoning continues to be a major threat to vultures. FORMING VULTURE SUPPORT GROUPS IN ZIMBABWE BirdLife Zimbabwe are working closely with Painted Dogs Conservation (PDC) in Hwange National Park to strengthen community involvement in the anti-poisoning campaign. Elsewhere, Park Rangers have been trained to identify and monitor vulture species, to help respond to poisoning incidents; and a five year national vulture action plan, has been submitted to the Ministry of Environment, Water and Cli- mate for endorsement. LAW ENFORCERS TRAINED TO COMBAT WILDLIFE POISONING AND SAVE VULTURES IN BOTSWANA 47 rangers from Chobe District were trained to respond to wildlife poisoning crime, and in crime scene investigation to help ensure prosecutions, 24 ONE BIG PLAN TO SAVE ALL THE VULTURES OF AFRICA AND EURASIA INTERNATIONAL 1 “We are hoping for between 90 and 120 thou- sand hectares of Vulture Safe Zones come next year. We spread the word as much as possi- ble, and new farmers keep asking us how to become vulture-safe” — Chaona Phiri, Bird- Watch Zambia. BIRDLIFE • SEPTEMBER 2017 African-Eurasian Vultures are the most threat- ened group of terrestrial migratory birds on the planet. Many have extensive soaring migra- tions (and a Rüppell’s Vulture was recorded as the world’s highest-flying bird when it collided with an airliner), and their massive ranges mean that their safety can only be guaranteed if many countries come together and agree on a plan for their protection. This is where BirdLife Interna- tional’s work comes in, supported by Partners around the world, with the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Ani- mals (CMS) providing a key platform. It’s a huge problem and a huge area, so we have made an appropriate plan: namely, the Multi-species Action Plan to Conserve Afri- can-Eurasian Vultures (Vulture MsAP), developed by BirdL ife, the IUCN Species Survival Com- mission’s Vulture Specialist Group and Vulture Conservation Foundation, under the guidance of the CMS Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia (Raptors MOU), with input from numerous individual experts on vultures and their conservation. SEPTEMBER 2017 • BIRDLIFE Vultures searching for carcasses see no country borders: international commitments are required to protect them. Photo ScenaStudio/ Shutterstock 0 THE PLAN HAS THE ULTIMATE DEADLINE: 2029 MUST BE A YEAR OF CELEBRATION OF VULTURE RECOVERY Wild White-rumped Vulture with satellite tag being released by BCN. Photo Ankit Joshi “We as conservation organisations recognise the importance of vultures and are doing all we can to save them, but this colossal task needs action on an unprecedented scale through the support of governments as well as the private sector and many others”, says Roger Safford, Senior Programme Manager, Preventing Extinc- tions, BirdLife International. The comprehensive action plan sets out actions, and links to practical guidance, for governments of the 128 countries in Africa and Eurasia that have vultures (Vulture Range States), and other stakeholders, on pre- venting poisoning, avoiding electrocution and collisions with energy infrastructure, tackling persecution and illegal trade, restoring habitat, and ensuring natural food supplies. “The Vulture MsAP aims for the recovery of 15 Old World vulture species to favourable popu- lation levels by 2029”, says Safford. This plan lit- erally has the ultimate deadline: 2029 must be a year of celebration of vulture recovery, not griev- ing of the imminent extinction of many species. The consequences if not are unbearable.  BirdLife thus urges the 126 Parties of CMS to adopt the Vulture MsAP, and to add 10 species of African and Asian Vultures to CMS Appendix I, giving them the highest level of protection. And it must happen immediately: on 23-28 October in Manila, Philippines, at the 12th Conference of Parties (COP12) of the CMS. 1 The challenge is then for the Vulture Range States and others to put in place all the resources, legislation and conservation measures, including via national action plans, necessary to avoid a vulture and human-health catastrophe. With this machinery in place, international vulture conser- vation would be shifted into a higher gear. In advance of the CMS COP, the Vulture MsAP is available online at www.cms.int 25