2 days ago
Vultures are obligate scavengers: they feed only on dead animals. There are 23 species of vultures, and most of them are or were threatened. Seen as disgusting because they are scavengers, they have been poisoned, hunted, persecuted since the mid-19th century in every places they occur in. Poisoning, the major source of their decline, can have multiple causes: unintentional if the carcasses are contaminated by some veterinary products or by bioaccumulation (vultures eat at the end of the food chain). Deliberate poisoning by humans willing to eliminate a competitor for livestock (eventhough vultures are not competitors because they are scavengers) or willing to eliminate an "alarm": by flying in circle over a dead animal, vultures help signaling poachers.
But vultures shouldn't be considered as evil: by eating dead bodies they provide "effective sanitation service", avoiding some diseases to spread to humans, cattle or wildlife. Reintroduction programs occur all over the world, from local programs to reintroduce vultures poisoned by poachers in South Africa such as Moholoholo rehabilitation centre to wider programs to reintroduce whole populations in France, mostly led by the LPO, a french association protecting and promoting wildlife.
Pict 1: Griffon vulture in the Mercantour National Park in France. Griffon vulture are not considered as threathened according to the IUCN list, and its population is currently increasing in Europe but decreasing in North Africa.
Pict 2: Lappet-faced vulture in Moholoholo Rehabilitation centre, South Africa. Lappet-faced vulture are considered as endangered on the IUCN list.
Ogada et al. 2011, New York Academy of Sciences
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