The World Wide Fund for Nature; the Hawk Conservancy Trust, UK; the Zoological Society of London; the Birds of Prey Working Group in South Africa and other organisations will conduct programmes to create awareness about threats to vultures, says a WWF statement issued on Friday.
It says: ?Vultures are an ecologically vital group of birds that face a range of threats in many areas in which they occur. Vultures clean the environment by eating dead animals and also control the spread of disease causing organisms from the carcasses.? The populations of many species of vultures are under pressure and some are facing extinction.
There are a total of nine species of vultures found in South Asia and Pakistan has eight of these. In Pakistan, a major decline has been in two of the Asian Gyps species called white-backed vulture and long-billed vulture. The population of these two vultures has declined to about 95 per cent and these now are listed as ?critically endangered?? which means only conservation efforts can safe these species from extinction.
This decline is linked to the extensive use of ?Diclofenac Sodium? drug in livestock that accumulates in the kidneys of vultures when they feed on carcasses and eventually leads to their death. Diclofenac has been banned in veterinary practice now.
The WWF – Pakistan also took an initiative and launched the ?Gyps Vulture Restoration Project? in 2005 in partnership with the Punjab Wildlife and Parks Department with the support from Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, UAE, and The Hawk Conservancy Trust, UK.
For vulture awareness, the WWF – Pakistan put up banners in different parts of Lahore to highlight the ecological significance of vultures, organised a poem-writing competition and distributed posters.
ZOO: Vultures have received bad publicity and people need to understand that presence of vultures is critical to environmental health; a decline in vulture may further increase the population of crows and dogs.