CONSERVING MALAWI'S VULTURES
Vultures are the only documented obligate scavengers and provide essential ecosystem services, making them a keystone species. However, despite their importance, vulture populations worldwide are in rapid decline. In fact, seven of the 11 species that occupy ranges in Africa are categorised as Endangered or Critically Endangered by the IUCN.
Declines in vulture populations have devastating impacts, resulting in trophic cascades that can influence ecosystem, social and economic health. Numerous factors have contributed to Africa’s vulture decline, and while these factors vary regionally, most populations are affected by poisoning and human persecution. Conservation initiatives are further impeded by the large multi-country home ranges which many vultures inhabit and vast knowledge gaps within these ranges. Addressing these gaps is therefore critical to developing appropriate conservation initiatives.
Malawi boasts a number of important vulture habitats and is thought historically to have acted as an important stepping-stone between southern and eastern African vulture populations. However, a lack of research and monitoring has led to the silent extirpation of vultures across the majority of Malawi. Recently, due to an increase in ecosystem restoration initiatives, vultures have slowly returned to select protected areas in Malawi, creating a renewed opportunity for the research and conservation of these highly threatened species.
LWT’s Conserving Malawi’s Vultures project seeks to develop the first vulture focused conservation initiatives in Malawi by integrating research, monitoring and public/stakeholder engagement. A large aspect of this work seeks to address knowledge gaps pertaining to Malawi’s vulture populations as identified by the Vulture Multi-species Action Plan, a collaborative international conservation strategy for vultures adopted by the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals.
REPORTING VULTURE TAGS
Have you seen one of Malawi’s tagged vultures? If so, please report it to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the below information. These reports are vital to improving our understanding of vulture movements in the region.
- Wing tag number
- Date and time of sighting
- Location (please be as specific as possible)
- Vulture road counts
- Camera trapping
- Tagging for mark recapture studies
- Data entry of reports from members of public