Rare griffon vulture in the Netherlands, video

This is a video about a griffon vulture, a rare species in the Netherlands.

Jan de Jong made this video on 6 April 2014 in Zaltbommel.

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European Union threatens European vultures

This video says about itself:

Vanishing Vultures

31 May 2011

The Indian sub-continent had the highest density of vultures in the world – 85 million in total. However, over the past few years 99% have disappeared – mostly due to the use of the veterinary drug Diclofenac.

The loss of such an important scavenger has had devastating effects – putrefying decomposing carcasses are thought to be the cause of anthrax and rabies outbreaks. The extinction of this species would have global health consequences.

The films were premiered at the British Council in 2006, and have since been broadcast in 15 different languages on the national network – along with special screenings for the Prime Minister and other key politicians.

There has been an immediate reaction from the public and national press. The films also appeal to farmers – many, previously unaware of the problem, have now switched to a safer alternative to the drug.

Manufacture and sale of the drug Diclofenac has been banned with immediate effect nationwide – to give the remaining 1% of vultures a fighting chance for survival.

From BirdLife:

Vulture killing drug now available on EU market

By Rebecca Langer, Wed, 05/03/2014 – 10:09

Diclofenac is a powerful anti-inflammatory drug that has wiped out vulture populations in India, Pakistan and Nepal. Now, a repeat of this ecological disaster is threatening Europe. Despite the fact that safe alternative drugs are readily available, Diclofenac has been authorised for use on domestic animals in Italy, and in Spain where 80% of European vultures live, and is now becoming widely available on the EU market. According to experts in SEO/BirdLife (BirdLife in Spain), RSPB (BirdLife UK) and the Vulture Conservation Foundation, this may cause a European mass die off of endangered and ecologically valuable wildlife.

Vultures have long suffered from unfavourable public opinion in Europe, but as species that are built to do the dirty work of ecological recycling, they are essential to the health and well-being of ecosystems. In Europe, four rare vulture species exist and are continuing to face threats to their survival. Egyptian Vulture is listed as Endangered by BirdLife on behalf of the IUCN Red List of Species while Cinerous Vulture is listed as Near Threatened. Fortunately, thanks to decades of conservation efforts and millions of euros invested, vulture populations are recovering. The introduction of Diclofenac now puts these efforts and investments in jeopardy.

In India, Pakistan and Nepal, Diclofenac was regularly used in the 1990’s to treat cattle. When the animals died, Diclofenac remained in the body and was eaten by vultures, causing their almost immediate death. In about 10 years, the vulture populations in these countries has declined by 99%, bringing some of the most common and iconic large birds of the Indian subcontinent to the verge of extinction. This also led to serious human health consequences as the availability of unconsumed carrions led to an increase in stray dogs and spread of diseases such as rabies. Thanks to joint campaign efforts from the RSPB and its partner SAVE, Diclofenac has been banned in India and we are beginning to see signs of recovery for the Indian vulture population.

The EU and its Member States have a legal obligation to conserve vultures under the EU Birds Directive and EU Veterinary Drugs legislation that require avoiding ecological damage. An immediate ban on veterinary Diclofenac is needed to protect our vultures from the fate of their Asian cousins, and would also send a crucial signal encouraging African countries to stop the spread of Diclofenac, which is already affecting the highly endangered populations of African vultures.

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Why vultures deserve respect

This video says about itself:

This bearded vulture has developed an incredibly cunning method of eating carcass bone marrow – although patience is a virtue as this bone breaking technique can take seven years to perfect! Another amazing nature video from the wild African desert. From the BBC.

From the BBC:

31 January 2014 Last updated at 01:58

Seven surprising facts about vultures

By Ella Davies Reporter, BBC Nature

Bald, ugly birds with a gruesome taste for gore or charismatic creatures that do an essential but thankless job in the ecosystem?

However we perceive them, one thing is clear about vultures – they are in trouble.

In India, Nepal and Pakistan populations have plummeted by 95% in the last decade and the pattern is being mirrored across Africa.

The birds are being poisoned through the carcasses they clear up. While some of this is the result of medication in livestock, other cases suggest intentional foul play by poachers that target the birds so they don’t alert wardens to dead rhinos and elephants.

Conservationists such as Simon Thomsett are working to raise awareness of the birds’ plight and change attitudes towards them by highlighting their unique adaptations.

1. Highest flyers

The highest bird flight ever recorded was by a Ruppell’s vulture which impacted an aircraft at 37,000ft over the Ivory Coast in 1973. This is well above the height of Everest (29,029 ft) and the lack of oxygen would kill most other birds.

“Since then studies on this vulture revealed a number of features in their haemoglobin and a number of cardio-vascular adaptations that allow breathing in rarefied atmosphere,” explains Mr Thomsett.

Vultures routinely soar high in the air, using thermals to get a wide view of the plains so they can find food.

2. Africa’s biggest appetites

A vulture’s life

See vultures finding their next meal from seven miles up

How do vultures spot carrion from so far away?

Watch vultures catch a lift using the hot air of thermals

“Every visitor to Africa assumes that the major consumers of wild animals are lions, hyenas, leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs and jackals. But they are not,” says Mr Thomsett.

He gives the Serengeti as an example where the total biomass of dead grazing animals is estimated to exceed 40 million tonnes per year.

“The [mammalian] carnivores can consume only some 36% and the rest is available to vultures. Bacteria and maggots compete with vultures for this resource, but vultures remain the largest consumers.”

Their role as the ultimate recyclers is said to help stop the spread of disease as well as limit populations of other scavengers such as wild dogs.

3. Borders are not boundaries

Vultures can fly considerable distances for a meal; one Ruppell’s vulture was recently recorded travelling north from its nest in Tanzania, across Kenya to a region in Sudan and Ethiopia.

The international team of researchers found that instead of closely following the mass migration of wildebeest through the Masai Mara, the birds sought out their prey in the dry season when they were most vulnerable due to drought.

This border-crossing behaviour has landed the birds in bother, notably when a griffon vulture discovered in Saudi Arabia was accused by local media of being an Israeli spy.

The bird had been tagged by a team at Tel Aviv University as part of a study into their movements and officials reportedly resolved the misunderstanding.

4. Powerful pee

Turkey vultures urinate on their legs and while this sounds unpleasant, scientists suspect the behaviour could be an essential part of their immunity arsenal.

Acid present in the urine could act as a way of sterilising the birds legs after standing in rotting flesh to feed.

5. Powerful expansion

Cape vultures in South Africa were tracked following power lines and pylons to cover a straight-line distance of 620 miles (1000 km).

The journey far outstripped the known range of the birds but using such manmade structures is also fraught with danger.

Whether perching or nesting on pylons, the vultures can become entangled in the lines and risk being electrocuted.

The power lines also run through private farmland and foraging near livestock leaves the birds more vulnerable to poisoning.

6. Varied diet

They might be famed for tucking in to the rotting sinews and viscera of dead animals but not all vultures have a carrion-only diet.

The palm nut vulture, as its name suggests, enjoys a varied menu of palm nuts, figs, fish and occasionally birds. At carcasses it prefers the insects and maggots living on the flesh.

The lappet-faced vulture meanwhile is a large African species with a wing span of up to 2.9m (9.5ft) and has been observed preying on live flamingo chicks.

7. Strong stomachs

Bearded vultures are the only animals known to have a diet of 70-90% bone and their stomach acid allows them to take nutrients from what other species discard.

Vultures are well known for their incredibly strong stomach acid which can destroy bacteria, including cholera and anthrax, that would prove deadly to many other species.

They also carry special antibodies to help them tackle botulism toxins so that even if the illness killed their prey, the vultures can eat it without negative effects.

Cameraman and naturalist Charlie Hamilton-James seeks to better understand the birds in Vultures: Beauty in the Beast on BBC Two at 2100 GMT, Friday 31 January.

More on This Story

Related Stories

WWF aims to save endangered vultures in Pakistan: here.

The plight of India’s vulture populations, and their rapid decline due to the use of the drug diclofenac in cattle, is well documented. What’s less known is revealed in a new documentary (shown tonight, 31 January, in England and Wales and tomorrow, 1 February, in Scotland) in which renowned wildlife photojournalist and cameraman, Charlie Hamilton James, travels to East Africa to learn that vultures there are similarly declining at an alarming rate, but for a different reason: here.

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Good Andean condor news from Ecuador

This video is called Peru-Giant Condors taking off and landing at Colca Canyon.

From Wildlife Extra:

Andean condors protected by land purchase

January 2014: More than 270,000 acres of critical wildlife habitat in Ecuador has been purchased by the Rainforest Trust. The mammoth property acquisition, which includes the 18,714-foot Antisana Volcano, will create a permanent refuge for the largest population of Andean Condor in the Northern Andes.

The final 6,100 acre property, called Hacienda Antisanilla, was acquired today to complete a project by Rainforest Trust with Fundación Jocotoco, the Municipality of Quito, and the Quito Water Authority in a coordinated effort that will both protect endangered species and secure an important source of drinking water for Ecuador’s capital city.

“The purchase of multiple properties around Volcan Antisana represents one of the greatest conservation victories ever in the Andes of South America,” said Dr. Robert Ridgely, President of Rainforest Trust and a driving force behind this conservation success. “The final acquisition of Hacienda Antisanilla caps a decade-long effort by Rainforest Trust and our Ecuadorian partner Fundación Jocotoco to protect this fragile and biodiverse ecosystem. We are grateful to all of the partners, organizations and donors who made this possible, including The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, who provided critical support to acquire the Hacienda Antisanilla property.”

Flag of Ecuador, with condor

“The purchase of Hacienda Antisanilla was critical, as this property held the most important site for roosting and nesting Andean Condors – Ecuador’s National bird and emblazoned on our national flag.” noted Fundación Jocotoco Executive Director Rocio Merino. “So after years of struggling, we were able to purchase and protect the area thanks to the constant support of Rainforest Trust and Quito authorities.”

“The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation supports the important work of conservation to preserve the rich biodiversity of the Northern Andes,” said Susan M. Coliton, vice president of The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. “We saw that the Hacienda Antisanilla property was critical to protecting this population of Andean Condors and were encouraged by the effective cooperation between the conversation effort and the local authorities. We are pleased to have been a part of this successful and important initiative.”

Located just 20 miles from Quito, this enormous but undeveloped area first attracted the attention of conservationists in the 1980s. The Ecuadorian government declared it an ecological reserve in 1993, but the area remained in private hands. Much of the land continued to be farmed, and wildlife was increasingly threatened by over-grazing, fires, and poaching.

Home to the largest single population of condors in the Northern Andes, Antisana is also frequented by pumas, spectacled bears, and the endangered woolly tapir. Antisana is of critical global importance for biodiversity and highlighted as an Alliance for Zero Extinction site due to the presence of no less than three species of threatened frogs found nowhere else. Sadly, the black andean toad (Atelopus ignescens), once common in Antisana, has already gone extinct.

All the properties purchased will be improved by the removal of cattle from the fragile native grassland called “Páramo,” while park guards will patrol the area to curtail poaching.

“This enormous land protection project is even more significant as not only does it help to protect the most critical source of water for the ever-expanding city of Quito but it also connects to two adjacent protected areas, Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserve and Gran Sumaco National Park,” said Dr. Paul Salaman, CEO of Rainforest Trust, “Combined, these protected areas safeguard 1.8 million acres of biologically diverse Andean and Amazonian ecosystems.”

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California condors and lead ammunition

This is a California condor video from the USA.

From Wildlife Extra:

Lead ammunition banned in California and reduced in Arizona to protect condors

Arizona hunters reduce lead ammunition voluntarily

October 2013. Hunters in Arizona have proved their commitment to wildlife conservation by voluntarily working to reduce the amount of lead exposure to endangered California condors, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department is encouraging all hunters to join the effort this fall.

85-90% of hunters using non-lead ammunition

In the last six years, 85 to 90 percent of hunters in Arizona’s condor range have voluntarily either used non-lead ammunition during their hunts or, if they used lead ammunition, they removed the gut piles from the field.

California bans lead ammunition

California just chose a different approach to help conserve that state’s condor population. California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation on Oct. 11 mandating that hunters statewide must use non-lead ammunition.

“Every state needs to take an approach that takes into consideration its own unique needs. In Arizona, we feel strongly that a voluntary approach works better than a mandated measure while still upholding the agreements that were originally promised when the condor reintroduction program was established,” says Allen Zufelt, Arizona Game and Fish’s condor program coordinator. “Achieving between 85 and 90 percent voluntary participation is a clear demonstration of hunters’ commitment to condor management, and they deserve to be recognized.”


The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, which coordinates condor management with Arizona Game and Fish, has also recently implemented a lead reduction program in southern Utah. As the condor population has become more established, the birds have increased their foraging area and now use southern Utah heavily during the fall hunting season. These two complimentary programs should greatly benefit condors.

Lead poisoning a key factor in condor mortality

Lead poisoning has been identified as the leading cause of diagnosed death in endangered condors and the main obstacle to a self-sustaining population in Arizona and southern Utah. Studies suggest that lead shot and bullet fragments found in animal carcasses and gut piles are the most likely source of lead exposure. Many hunters do not realize that the carcass or gut pile they leave in the field usually contains lead bullet fragments. Gut piles from animals harvested with non-lead ammunition provide an important food source for the condors and should be left in the field.

The deaths of two California condors found last month in water tanks used by Kern County firefighters have state wildlife officials working on a way to keep the large, endangered birds out of the tanks: here.

It may not have a huge impact on hunting, but ‘green’ bullets could help reduce the rates of lead poisoning in groundwater and animals: here.

Save African vultures

This video says about itself:

This bearded vulture has developed an incredibly cunning method of eating carcass bone marrow – although patience is a virtue as this bone breaking technique can take seven years to perfect! Another amazing nature video from the wild African desert. From the BBC.

From BirdLife:

A campaign to save African Vultures in the wake of new poisoning incidents

Fri, Aug 16, 2013

“I want African Vultures ALIVE – not DEAD”. This was the headline message for the African vulture campaign initiated at the BirdLife World Congress held in Ottawa, Canada, in June 2013. It resonated very well with the 600 delegates and most people stopped by to take pictures next to a banner that boldly proclaimed this message. As we speak, this message is spreading like wildfire in the social media and beyond. …

Achilles Byaruhanga of Nature Uganda (BirdLife in Uganda) likes vultures alive!
But why would anyone want these creatures alive, as they are often portrayed as ugly scavengers? Vultures play an extremely important role in nature. They keep natural and man-made habitats free of carcasses, waste and even human excrement. This way, they limit the spread of diseases, such as anthrax and botulism, a rare disease that causes paralysis. In Africa they are also of cultural value to many communities, and they have an important eco-tourism value.

Still, why this particular concern about African vultures, now? The African continent supports eleven species of vulture, of which eight are confined to the continent. The main threats to vultures in Africa include poisoning, loss of preferred habitat, persecution for various uses including traditional medicine, disturbance at breeding sites, declining food availability and collision with energy infrastructure such as wind turbines.

In West Africa for example, comparisons of censuses conducted by Jean-Marc Thiollay in the early 1970s and then repeated in the early 2000s, found that four large vulture species decreased dramatically (98%) outside protected areas in four countries.

Poisoning incidences are also being increasingly reported elsewhere in Africa. In July 2013 alone, two known poisoning incidents decimated a large number of vultures in southern Africa. An estimated 400 to 600 vultures were found dead near an elephant carcass in Caprivi, Namibia, poisoned by poachers who laced the carcass with a chemical. This was an intentional attempt to kill vultures, because vultures congregate around carcasses and are therefore often used by law enforcers as an indication of poaching activity. In another incident, about 50 vultures were found dead in a farm in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. Several sheep carcasses found on site were suspected of having been intentionally poisoned in order to control jackal predation on new-born lambs.

The generally negative public perception towards vultures worsens the situation by making it difficult to convince people that the decline of vulture populations will have negative implications on their lives, such as loss of environmental cleaning services and loss of income from tourism. Unfortunately this negative attitude permeates society at all levels at local, national and international levels and it has been a challenge to convince governments, donors and industries to support vulture conservation.

The BirdLife Africa Partnership, together with collaborators, especially through the IUCN Vulture Specialist Group, is taking action to address the looming African vulture crises. Priority actions include: first, research and monitoring to produce evidence to persuade government and industry to change their practices and commit resources to vulture conservation. Secondly, map areas where vultures are found and the threats they face. Mapping will enable identification and protection of ‘vulture hotspots’, including vulture breeding colonies. Thirdly, educate people – including donors and decision-makers – and change their perceptions about vultures. Fourthly, support local conservation action, and encourage workers from different areas of the continent to network and share experiences.

We need your support to stem the threats to African vultures! Please share this article with your network of friends, take action for your local vultures, or make a donation at www.justgiving.com/africanvultures.


The BirdLife Africa Partnership has produced the first regional State of Africa’s Birds (SOAB) report, launched at the BirdLife World Congress in June 2013 in Ottawa, Canada. The report provides a comprehensive overview of current and emerging environment and development issues in Africa as reflected from in-depth information on birds. It presents a synthesis of the work and knowledge of the BirdLife Africa Partnership in conserving birds, their habitats and other biodiversity, as well as livelihoods efforts for sustainability in the use of natural resources. The report is a one stop shop that profile the conservation activities of the BirdLife Africa Partnership and the conservation outlook for birds, biodiversity and nature in Africa: here.

Chilean condors poisoned by insecticides

This video is about Andean condors.

From Associated Press:

20 condors apparently poisoned with insecticide high in Andes of Chile; 2 of giant birds die

Tuesday, August 13, 1:04 AM

SANTIAGO, Chile — Twenty condors were apparently poisoned with insecticide that has already killed two of the giant birds in the Chilean Andes cordillera, a veterinarian said Monday.

Condors have wingspans of up to 10 feet (3 meters) and can ride rising air currents for hours without stopping. But on Sunday they began crashing into the rocks high in the mountains near a hydroelectric plant.

Chilean officials and volunteers rescued 17 that were foaming from the beak and were too frail to fly. Another sick condor and two dead ones were found Monday. They were all taken to a veterinary clinic in the city of Los Andes, some 40 miles (70 kilometers) east of the capital, Santiago.

“The hypothesis is that they suffered organophosphate poisoning after they were exposed to insecticides used for agriculture,” veterinarian Eric Savard, who has been treating them, told The Associated Press.

The 18 survivors are recovering with an antidote, antibiotics and saline solution, Savard said. They will remain under intensive care for 10 days.

The Andean condor is one of the largest flying birds in the world. Biologists estimate only a few thousand are in the wild.