Home Causes NCF leads partners to save West Africa’s vultures

NCF leads partners to save West Africa’s vultures

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The Director General of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), Dr Joseph Onoja has affirmed Nigeria’s commitment to the development and promotion of plant-based alternatives towards engaging vulture users on sustainable practices.

At a sub-regional vulture workshop in Abuja recently organised by the NCF and BirdLife International, 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”.

BirdLife International’s Vulture Conservation Coordinator for Africa, Ms Salisha Chandra, told the workshop: “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”.

The workshop, which was facilitated by the Conservation Planning Specials Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), brought together more than 30 participants from 13 countries. Participants also came from Convention on Migratory Species’ National Focal Points, Raptors MOU National Contact Points, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species’ National Authorities, other government representatives, and non-governmental organisations. The primary objective was to develop an Action Plan and address key threats to vultures within the sub-region – specifically those caused by human activities.

Vultures play a vital role in the 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 percent over the last 50 years. In West Africa, widespread killing of vultures for belief-based use, where it is erroneously thought that vulture heads and other body parts have special powers and can bring good luck to users, threatens to wipe out stronghold populations of these Critically Endangered birds.

Participants focused on four main factors affecting vultures in the sub-region including killing of vultures for belief-based use, trade and use of vultures for belief-based use, cultural perceptions and beliefs around vultures, and indirect persecution.

The inviting character of the discussions facilitated by the IUCN Conservation Planning Specials Group allowed participants to openly contribute what they perceived as realistic solutions. For three days, participants identified goals, actions, timelines, stakeholders, and indicators relevant to achieving a common vision towards saving these threatened birds.

Further discussions revolved around the development of a governance structure to oversee thes Action Plan. Following this workshop, the outcomes of the deliberations will be transformed into a draft action plan which will be reviewed by all meeting participants, before the final document is availed by the end of this year.

Vulture Project Coordinator at NCF, Mr Solomon Adefolu said about the workshop: “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 operationalization of the action plan developed”.

This workshop was made possible with the collaborative support from EV NewLife partners, and Convention on Migratory Species Raptors MOU.

BirdLife is the world’s largest conservation partnership with over 10 million members and supporters, and over 115 national partners worldwide, while NCF is the premier NGO dedicated to nature conservation and sustainable development in Nigeria.

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