Conservationists from across Africa have called for urgent actions to save the declining vulture population in the West African sub region.
Arising from a planning workshop in Abuja, they affirmed that the threat posed by human activities, had resulted in sharp decline in the number of the carnivorous bird over the years.
In a statement, Head of Communications, Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), Mr Oladapo Soneye, said the event, which held from 12 to 14 October 2022 in Abuja, was put together by NCF and BirdLife International and facilitated by the IUCN Conservation Planning Specials Group.
According to Soneye, the programme brought together more than 30 participants from 13 different countries, including Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) National Focal Points.
The experts condemned what they described as the widespread killing of vultures for belief-based use.
They explained that “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% over the last 50 years.”
Director General, NCF, Dr. Joseph Onoja, said, “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 government and help improve the current process of strengthened wildlife legislation and policy in Nigeria.”
Also speaking, Vulture Conservation Coordinator – Africa, BirdLife International, Ms. Salisha Chandra explained that, “Given the migratory nature of vultures and the transboundary nature of the threats in West Africa, a coordinated action plan is crucial to address the decline of vultures in the sub region. This workshop gives us hope that we can quickly and urgently implement actions to halt these declines.”
Speaking of his experience, Vulture Project Coordinator at NCF, Mr. Solomon Adefolu said “My experience in this sub-regional action plan workshop in the last three days have improved my understanding of the West African challenges peculiar to vultures and the possible solutions that can be prioritized especially in the operationalisation of the action plan developed.”