The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) has called for the conservation of the declining Vulture population in the country to prevent extinction and looming epidemic.
In commemoration of International Vulture Awareness Day (IVAD), Mr Oladapo Soneye, Communications Manager, NCF, shared that the NCF has embarked on a rescue mission tagged, “Supporting Community-based Monitoring and Conservation for Vulture Populations in Identified Vulture Safe Zones across Nigeria.”
Soneye said that the goal of the rescue mission was to tackle the declining population of vultures and its associated benefits to the people.
According to him, the project is supported by the Indianapolis Zoo. adding that it is part of a series of activities to conserve the remaining vultures in the country.
“NCF is using the opportunity to create more awareness about importance of vulture in our society and harp on some critical efforts it has put in place to help improve the situation.
“The Vulture Safe Zone (VSZ) project is one of the foundation’s efforts designed to protect remnant vulture populations in their natural environment and support sustainable livelihoods,” Soneye said.
He said that the foundation also leverages the VSZ project to preserve the ecosystem benefits of the species and promote peaceful and positive coexistence between the people and the vultures.
He said that the goal of the project was to reverse the negative trends in the viable populations of vultures found in two selected sites in Nigeria.
He listed some of the VSZ activities to include stakeholders’ engagement to identify threats and design livelihood alternatives to associated threats; and training of the local community on vulture population monitoring.
“These activities held on July 20 and 21 at Iruowelle Village Community Hall, Awka-Etiti Idemili South LGA of Anambra State. The training focused on raising the capacity of community-based volunteers within the zones to methodically observe and report the trends in vulture populations in their community.
“This is important as it promotes species appreciation and consciousness within the community.
“The volunteers were also supported with monitoring equipment which included six Binoculars, two GPS units, two Mobile Phones, data Sheets and other writing materials.
“Nigeria is home to seven out of the 11 vultures that exist in Africa. They are Egyptian Vulture- Neophron percnopterus (Endangered), Hooded Vulture – Necrosyrtes monachus (Endangered), White-backed Gyps africanus (Endangered).
“White-headed Vulture – Trigonoceps occipitalis (Vulnerable), Ruppell’s Griffon – Gyp rueppellii (Endangered), Palm-nut Vulture – Gypohierax angolensis (Least Concern) and Lappet-faced Vulture -Torgos tracheliotus – (Endangered),” Soneye said.
He said that the only vulture species that seemed to be thriving in the country were the Hooded Vulture and Palm-nut Vulture.
Soneye said that vultures, otherwise called nature’s sanitary prefect, are the only species of bird/wildlife that feed on carcasses without emitting disease into the atmosphere, unlike other scavengers.
He said that the absence of vultures would lead to the outbreak of diseases such as anthrax, rabies etc.