Why You Should Love Vultures
** UPDATE: Donate now to get it doubled as part of the Big Give's Green Match Fund which goes live frrom 20-27th April **
We know that healthy ecosystems naturally regulate disease, and that biodiversity loss disturbs this fragile balance. As the barriers between wildlife, livestock and people have been steadily eroded, the proportion of human diseases originating in other animals, like rabies, hendra and Covid19, has increased substantially in recent decades and is now around 75%. Saving keystone species like vultures, which perform vital ecosystem services, can protect the health of other wildlife and of humans.
We are delighted to tell you that we have been awarded £5,000 of match funding by The Big Give, which we can unlock through online donations during the 2023 Green Match Fund campaign week, which runs from the 20th to the 27th of April. Following our Executive Director's recent trip to India and Nepal, we have so much to tell you about how biodiversity is key to ensuring the next pandemic doesn't emerge and how protecting it is in fact key to managing much of the world's health and climatic problems.
The story of the rapid demise of vultures in South Asia in the past 25-30 years is a shockingly clear example of how wildlife disease can impact ecosystem function and the health of other wildlife, livestock and humans.
Below is a summary of our campaign. Please keep following us on social media (see top right of this webpage), sign up to our newsletter (bottom of this webpage) and keep checking this website to find out more as we reveal the whole story over the next few weeks.
Vultures are among the most misunderstood and least appreciated species on the planet. And yet, as nature’s most efficient scavengers, capable of disposing of millions of tons of carrion every year, they play a vital role in balancing natural ecosystems.
In Asia, their numbers crashed catastrophically in the 1990s, largely due to accidental poisoning with the drug diclofenac. India alone had lost 99% of its vultures by 2007. Today, the cattle graveyards that used to be serviced by vultures are an environmental and human hazard, responsible for sharp increases in feral dog numbers, with a knock-on effect on the incidence of diseases like rabies.
Thanks to intensive conservation work, vulture populations in Asia are recovering slowly, but given their small numbers they remain very vulnerable to threats like disease. WVI will facilitate the exchange of expertise, and train vets and rehabilitators in vulture range states to make sure that both wild and captive-reared birds have the best chance of survival.
Securing a safe future for vultures will help restore ecosystem balance, to the benefit of all species, humans included. Ultimately, we want to see people and wildlife not just surviving but thriving.
At the SAVE Vultures conference, Nepal, in March, our Executive Director, Olivia Walter, met those currently in the SAVE Vultures consortium and found out what their veterinary needs were. In the short term this means supporting a network of vets looking after the captive insurance population of white-rumped vultures (Gyps bengalensis), that will be used for future releases once more Vulture Safe Zones have been securely established. In the medium term, conservation organisations have asked for help with post mortems, disease surveillance in free living vultures and rehabilitation training. Keep following to find out more as we develop plans to address these needs.
How can you help?
Be a Vulture Champion! Over the next few weeks, we will demonstrate why you should come to love them.
Once you have had your epiphany, please tell everyone you know!