Vultures are under severe threat
In the world of raptor conservation, vultures are listed as one of the most threatened of all bird groups. The greatest threats likely occur in Africa, where there has been a 98% decrease in the vulture population from poisoning, from their use in black magic or tribal medicine, and from power lines (electrocution and collision); these problems are not expected to be resolved in the near future. According to published peer-reviewed data, some species of African vultures are expected to become extinct within 10 to 12 years; as such, these birds are in as great, or greater, risk as the rhinoceros.
Vultures typically receive poor press; however, they are enigmatic and highly intelligent raptors. Vultures—referred to as “nature’s clean-up crew”—form a key role in the ecosystem, consuming 75% of fallen stock in Africa, thereby controlling disease. A captive colony of these mostly social birds can provide an interesting and valuable experience for visitors, while concurrent educational materials can impart a vitally important conservation message.
VulPro, (subject to formal support of the South African government), is forging ties with the International Centre for Birds of Prey (ICBP), most notably Jemima Parry-Jones MBE (JPJ) and her technical advisory team in an effort to improve the viability of these at-risk birds. VulPro plans to set up breeding colonies (both in and hopefully out of Africa) using flight-impaired birds that are no longer able to survive in the wild. VulPro is preparing to send the initial ‘Ark’ of 30 vultures to ICBP to create the first ex-situ breeding colony. This is similar to an earlier project where a conservation group out of South Africa sent rhinoceroses to safe locations around the world to save genetic material and preserve the species