Save vultures of Bangladesh


This video says about itself:

A ‘Restaurant’ for Cambodia’s Endangered Vultures

16 June 2016

The Prey Siem Pang Lech Wildlife Sanctuary provides a safe home for vultures and other threatened Cambodian wildlife.

From BirdLife:

3 Apr 2017

One quarter of Bangladesh is safe from recently exposed vulture-killing drug

After successfully banning two drugs poisonous to vultures, Bangladesh is leading the way in Asian vulture conservation, and moving towards banning a third

By Shaun Hurrell

You may not remember how to pronounce it, but you quite possibly have heard of “diclofenac”, the vulture-killing drug which caused the most dramatic bird decline in modern history, wiping out over 99% of Asia’s vultures in the 1990s. If not, then after hearing that, you will surely not forget it. Day to day, concerned owners of livestock use non-sterroidal anti-inflammatories like diclofenac to alleviate pain in their animals. Unfortunately, once these animals die and are consumed by vultures, these drugs cause excruciating pain, kidney failure, and death to the birds.

All four of Asia’s resident vulture species have been listed as Critically Endangered since the diclofenac problem was exposed in the early 2000s (see below). Through the SAVE Partnership (Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction), BirdLife and the RSPB (BirdLife UK) have been working to ban diclofenac in Asian countries and tackling other endangered vulture conservation issues, including creating protected “Vulture Safe Zones”. However, a suite of other replacement non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have been exposed that pose lethal risk to vultures, such as “ketoprofen”.

Diclofenac was successfully banned in Bangladesh in 2010, and a further drug “aceclofenac” has similarly been outlawed. “Banning aceclofenac was another important step,” says Chris Bowden, Programme Manager of SAVE, and RSPB.

“It combated what can only be described as a ‘cynical exploitation of a loophole’ by drug companies, as aceclofenac is quickly converted to deadly diclofenac in a treated animal. This has been demonstrated experimentally and published by our SAVE research team.”

However ketoprofen quickly became the main replacement in Bangladesh—but this too has been shown to cause similar kidney failure and lingering death in vultures.

Thankfully, the Bangladesh government has now also declared a ban of ketoprofen in two Vulture Safe Zones—crucial areas for these birds which span 25% of the country. This includes the Bangladesh Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) has banned manufacturers of ketoprofen from selling, distributing, storing and exhibiting the drug in the Vulture Safe Zones. BirdLife applauds the Bangladesh government’s decision as this sets a great precedent for extending the ban to the entire country.

These decisions come as a cumulative result of two years of extensive groundwork done for vulture conservation in the country, and highlighted by SAVE.

“This is a crucial step which we hope will push vets and farmers to switch to using vulture-safe alternative drugs such as ‘meloxicam’,” says Bowden. “This is also an important precedent for the other South Asian countries to follow.”

In 2014, Bangladesh was the first government worldwide to approve the declaration of Vulture Safe Zones. Then, supported by IUCN Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Forest Department and Ministry of Environment & Forest, a team was trained to take extensive measures in the huge 100 km radius area to prevent vulture deaths, involving intensive advocacy and awareness work with vets, farmers, drug suppliers and all relevant authorities.

Other developments in Bangladeshi vulture conservation include the approval of a National Vulture Conservation Action Plan for the long term conservation of vulture species, and the construction of a new rescue centre in the north of the country.

However, Europe has not yet learnt from Asian mistakes, and in 2014 we learned that diclofenac was made available on the EU market, including Spain where 80% of European vultures live. This sparked our ongoing campaign to completely ban the use of veterinary diclofenac in Europe too, which you can support.

Unless you plan on having a “sky burial” (a 3,000-year old Parsi tradition with an uncertain future owing to lack of vultures), then these drugs should be safe for us humans to use; but make sure you don’t forget the names “diclofenac”, “aceclofenac” and “ketoprofen” (and others listed below) and help us spread the use of alternatives such as “meloxicam” amongst vets, farmers, drug stores and suppliers in Asia and Europe.

More information:

Towards a ketoprofen ban in Bangladesh (SAVE website)

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) Alert:

Vulture-toxic NSAIDs:

  • Diclofenac
  • Aceclofenac
  • Ketoprofen
  • Nimesulide
  • Flunixin
  • Carprofen
  • Phenylbutazone

Meloxicam remains the only known vulture-safe NSAID.

Asia’s Critically Endangered vultures

Indian Vulture Gyps indicus

Slender-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris

Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus

White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis

Save vultures from extinction


This video says about itself:

12 January 2016

Photographer Charlie Hamilton James describes the emotional experience of photographing vultures for National Geographic—from placing a camera inside a carcass to get a bird’s-eye view of a feeding frenzy to discovering vulture parts for sale in illegal markets.

From BirdLife:

24 Mar 2017

Vultures need you

African & Eurasian Vultures are in severe trouble—most species perilously close to extinction. We’re calling for contributions to a new 12-year Action Plan to save them.

By Shaun Hurrell

Let’s face it: vultures are special. Part of human culture, they are seen as disgusting by some, yet loved by others (including us and you). Asia’s vultures have suffered some of the fastest population declines ever recorded in a bird, and Africa’s recent severe declines mean that now most old-world vultures are on the edge of extinction. With a unique scavenging niche, this group of birds clean our landscapes and help to prevent the spread of disease—among the many reasons why we are doing all we can to save them. BirdLife’s vulture campaign has already shown how many people love and value vultures, and now there is a chance for some of you to input technical comments on the draft plan that sets out how best to conserve them.

Today we promote a public consultation on a new draft Multi-Species Action Plan to conserve African-Eurasian Vultures, launched by the Coordinating Unit of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) Raptors MOU, in collaboration with BirdLife International, Vulture Conservation Foundation and the IUCN Vulture Specialist Group. (The CMS Raptors MoU is the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia—an international, legally non-binding agreement to protect migratory birds of prey.)

In total, 127 countries are lucky to have recorded vultures in their skies.

This plan, if adopted by the Parties to CMS in October this year, would mean these countries being requested to take decisive action over twelve years to save vultures. The Plan would also guide states that are not Parties to CMS, as well as many other actors. This includes actions to protect vultures across Africa, Asia and Europe from all of threats sadly faced by these birds: poisoning, persecution, collision with energy infrastructure, habitat loss, and many more.

Whilst we are doing all we can to ensure a future for these special birds it is, above all, Governments that have the resources to solve this problem at the huge scale required.

An adopted Action Plan would also guide foreign investors and international agencies on how to take vulture conservation into account in development plans and projects.

The Action Plan identifies and concerns all relevant stakeholders in vulture conservation, from the health sector to renewable energy developers, trade regulation bodies and many others. So, if you are: a national governmental authority (e.g. Environment Ministry, Wildlife and Forest Service, etc.), conservation organisation, university, research institution, consultant, technical expert, ornithologist, or someone interested in the conservation of the African-Eurasian vultures, please get in touch to contribute to this technical document.

Together, we can achieve the objectives of the Action Plan: rapidly halt current population declines in all the species it covers; reverse recent population trends to bring the conservation status of each species back to a favourable level; and, provide conservation management guidelines applicable to all Range States covered by the Plan.

The only African-Eurasian vulture species not included in the Plan is the Palm-nut Vulture, nicknamed the “vegetarian vulture”, which is not currently threatened by the largest problems faced by others. But for the rest, action must be taken immediately. Eight out of 15 African-Eurasian vulture species are Critically Endangered. Three are Endangered and two are Near Threatened.

Vultures need you, now:

The Convention on Migratory Species, together with BirdLife and partners, are calling for technical feedback on the draft Multi-Species Action Plan to Conserve African-Eurasian Vultures (Vulture MsAP). Almost 300 government officials, partners, vulture specialists and other interested individuals have already contributed to its development, but your expertise can help shape this important plan:

Do you have information on the status of vultures, or threats to their survival (that are not already included in the document)?

What new solutions to threats facing vultures do you think should also be included?

Or, if everything has been covered, please let us know if you support the plan in its current state.

You have less than a month to input for vulture conservation, so please be fast.

Comments on the 2nd Draft Vulture MsAP should be submitted via email to cmsoffice.ae@cms.int by 16 April 2017. All comments received during the consultation period will be reviewed and, where appropriate, integrated into a final version of the Vulture MsAP, due to be completed by mid-May 2017 for formal submission to the CMS Secretariat. The Vulture MsAP is expected to be considered by Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) at the 12th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP12), scheduled to be held in Manila, Philippines in October 2017.

Important information:

Egyptian vulture video


This is an Egyptian vulture video.

These beautiful birds live in southern Europe (where I was privileged to see them in Extremadura, Spain), Africa and Asia.

Griffon vulture on video


This is a griffon vulture video. Made in the Netherlands, where these birds are rare.

I was privileged to see them in Aragon and in Extremadura in Spain.

Bearded vulture video


This is a bearded vulture video.

I was privileged to see these beautiful birds in Spain.

Extinct vultures returning to Thailand?


This video says about itself:

Mongolian vulture, four other birds to be released back into the wild

Bangkok, 9 May 2007

1. Wide of Royal Thai air-force C-130 cargo plane
2. Cage with cinereous vultureAnakin Skywalker‘ being loaded onto plane
3. Close-up of Himalayan griffon vulture inside cage and under green net
Doi Lang, 9 May 2007
4. Wide of vulture release team at Doi Lan mountain
5. Close-up of Anakin’s beak being measured
6. Various of satellite tag being placed on Anakin’s wing
7. Media
8. Anakin being placed inside mesh cage
9. SOUNDBITE: (English) Nyambayar Batbayar, Director of the Mongolia Wildlife Science and Conservation Centre:
“By using the satellite tracking device you can learn about migration behaviour, and also foraging patterns, and also you can learn about what areas are being used by vultures.
10. Wide of British ornithologist Philip Round having photo taken beside cage of cinereous vulture
11. Close-up of Anakin
12. SOUNDBITE: (English) Philip Round, Member of the British Ornithologists and Bird Conservation Society of Thailand:
“Anakin has been almost an ambassador for vultures, you know, because historically vultures don’t have a very good reputation in Thailand. But the arrival of Anakin has really promoted a lot of interest in the fate and the conservation of vultures.
13. Close-up of Anakin
Doi Lang, 10 May 2007
14. Wide of road where vultures are being released
15. Anakin steps out of cage and joins other Himalayan griffons
16. Media taking photos
17. Anakin spreading wings
18. Media watching
19. Himalayan griffon flying away
20. SOUNDBITE: (English) Chaiyan Kasorndorkbua, Assistant Professor of Veterinary Pathology at Kasetsart University:
“When we release them in a flock, that would be easier for them to find food, because the vulture is a flocking species, so they help each other to find the food.”
21. Chaiyan releasing Anakin
22. Chaiyan watching Anakin flying through binoculars
23. Anakin flying

STORYLINE:

A rare vulture was released into the wilds of Thailand on Thursday, after bird flu fears thwarted plans to send the young bird to nesting grounds in Mongolia.

The rare cinereous vulture, nicknamed ‘Anakin Skywalker’ after a popular character in the ‘Star Wars’ movies, was released from a cage along with four Himalayan Griffon Vultures in the mountainous area in northern Thailand near the Myanmar border.

After an hour, the four brown and white Himalayan Griffons flew off, leaving the black, cinereous vulture standing alone stretching its wings.

Veterinarian Chaiyan Kasorndorkbua then picked up the cinereous vulture and threw it into the air, forcing it to fly off toward a ridge, and ending a high-level bid to return the bird to Mongolia.

Chaiyan said they released the vultures together to make it easier for them to find food.

“When we release them in a flock, that would be easier for them to find food, because vulture is a flocking species, so they help each other to find the food,” said Chaiyan.

Thursday’s release was the final attempt to send the cinereous vulture back to the wild, after plans by Thailand’s national carrier to send the bird back to Mongolia via China or South Korea were cancelled over fears of bird flu.

Anakin and the other vultures were transported from Bangkok to Chiang Rai in northern Thailand on Wednesday onboard a Thai Royal Air Force C-130 cargo plane along with a team of veterinarians, government representatives and bird enthusiasts.

From Chiang Rai, the vultures were brought directly to the mountain area of Doi Lan in Chiang Mai to get acclimatised prior to their release on Thursday.

A satellite telemetry was attached to the cinereous vulture’s wing to monitor its whereabouts.

From BirdLife:

Can we bring vultures back to Thailand?

By Dr. Boripat Siriaroonrat and Kaset Sutasha, Bird Conservation Society of Thailand, 8 Feb 2017

It’s the most dramatic bird decline ever recorded – faster even than those that robbed our planet of the Passenger Pigeon Ectopistes migratorius or the Dodo Raphus cucullatus. Since the 1990s, a staggering 99% of the vulture population in Asia have disappeared – a drop from several million to just a few thousand.

As a result of these steep declines, four species of Asian vulture – White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis, Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus, Slender-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris and Indian Vulture Gyps indicus – are now assessed as being Critically Endangered – the highest threat category of all, and a status that indicates that if we do not continue to act, they will disappear from Asia’s skies within our lifetimes.

The main driver for the decline of vultures on the Indian subcontinent is well-publicised – the use of the veterinary drug Diclofenac to control pain and muscle fatigue in sick and aging cattle. Unfortunately, the drug proved lethal to vultures, who were unwittingly killed in large numbers in South Asia when they feasted on the poisoned carcasses of cattle who were left out in the open to die by herders.

Fortunately, the use of Diclofenac is now banned in India, Nepal and Pakistan, and thanks to the introduction of initiatives such as Safe Zones (areas in which threats are controlled within a 100kn radius, allowing viable populations to develop), vulture numbers are now finally stabilising on the Indian subcontinent. But why have vultures all but disappeared from other parts of Asia where Diclofenac isn’t an issue – as just as importantly, can we bring them back?

In Thailand, as in other parts of South-East Asia, Diclofenac isn’t an issue for vultures. Although the drug is widely available in pharmacies, it comes in cream and tablet forms, and is intended for human use – not for cattle. Despite this, the situation for vultures is even worse than it is in India – although two migratory species Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus and Himalayan Griffon Gyps himalayensis, can still be spotted every winter, all three of the species that were once resident in the country (Red-headed Vulture White-rumped Vulture and Slender-billed Vulture) are now extinct in Thailand.

Of the three, the Red-headed Vulture was the most abundant and could be found right in the center of Bangkok until the late 1960s-early 1970s, when burials were not widely practiced and dead bodies were left in the open waiting to be burned.  A cholera outbreak in Bangkok in the 19th Century is immortalised by sculptures of vultures feeding on corpses at the Golden Mountain (Wat Saket), which are still standing for us to see today even if the birds themselves are not. Vultures took advantage of the dead bodies until the modernization of the country in the 20th century.  With cemeteries now becoming normal practice, vultures have struggled in the face of the reduced food availability.

Hunting, poaching and habitat destruction are also major issues for vultures in this part of the world. Red-headed vultures were last seen in Thailand’s Huay Kha Kaeng Wildlife Sanctuary 25 years ago, coinciding with a new tiger hunting method deployed by hunters which used pesticides to poison the Sambar Deer carcass – a method developed so they could obtain tiger skins without tarnishing them with bullet holes. Sadly, the very last group of about 12 red-headed vultures scavenged on one such carcass and all of them died as a result. No sightings of wild vultures in the country had been reported since. Hunting and poisoning delivered the final blow to a vulture population that struggled to adapt in the face of the vast improvements that have been made to Thailand’s health, sanitation and cattle slaughterhouse networks.

Yet, these majestic birds of prey could yet circle over Thailand once more. In June 2016, The Zoological Park Organization of Thailand (ZPO) started the formal discussion to establish a Red-headed Vulture re-introduction program at Huay Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, in conjunction with Kasetsart University (KU), Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) and Bird Conservation Society of Thailand (BCST). It is aimed at re-wilding the very last group of captive Red-headed Vultures from zoos, with the hope of releasing captive-bred individuals of this Critically Endangered species back to nature in 2018. But although 2018 is close, there is a long way to go to make this a reality.

ZPO are very experienced in captive breeding and re-introduction programs, having worked for several decades on re-introducing mammal and avian species such as Eld’s Deer (Cervus eldi thamin), Eastern Sarus Crane (Grus antigone antigone), Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) and more besides. But the Red-headed Vulture poses a challenge because it is very hard to breed, nest and hatch chicks in captivity.

ZPO has chosen Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, a UNESCO world heritage site that stretches over more than 600,000 ha along the Myanmar border, as the perfect place to reintroduce the species because of its biodiversity. The sanctuary, which is relatively intact, contain examples of almost all the forest types of continental South-East Asia. They are home to a very diverse array of animals, including 77% of the large mammals (especially elephants and tigers), 50% of the large birds and 33% of the land vertebrates to be found in this region. All of which should mean plenty of food to sustain small groups of this struggling scavenger.

According to Dr. Saksit Simcharoen, a tiger expert from DNP, there are currently 150 – 200 wild Indochinese Tigers (Panthera tigris corbetti) and Indochinese Leopards (Panthera pardus delacouri) within the sanctuary. That mean there are more than 150 carcasses per week because tigers and leopards hunt at least once a week. Simcharoen believes that numbers of carcasses found in the sanctuary will be enough to support future vulture populations. It will be a long-term commitment, but the team is passionate about bringing Red-headed Vulture back to Thailand. And achieving this goal could ultimately save the bird from global extinction: when your species’ population trends are being mentioned in the same breath as the Dodo, you need every viable population you can get.

If you want to help BirdLife save vultures, please visit: www.birdlife.org/savevultures.

Black vultures at Georgia, USA owls’ nest


This video from Georgia in the USA says about itself:

Black Vultures Roost in Savannah – Feb. 5, 2017

Black Vultures commandeered the empty nest on the Great horned Owl Savannah Cam this weekend. These birds often roost in large flocks, and yesterday was no exception. Watch as they pile on the nest and surrounding areas.

Clip edited for length.

This camera livestream is a partnership between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Skidaway Audubon.