About 35 vulture and biodiversity experts from the Arabian Peninsula spent the last week debating vultures and their threats at the Arabia´s Wildlife Centre in Sharjah (United Arab Emirates), in a workshop organised by the Raptors MoU (Convention for Migratory Species) within the Vulture multi-Species Action Plan process - the last of the 4 regional workshops held before the final plan is unveiled.
The VCF has been a central part of this process, as we are not only the coordinators of the European component of this plan, but we also cofacilitated three of the 4 regional workshops – Europe, Asia and now the Middle-East.
The Middle-East workshop was organised within a larger meeting on Arabian biodiversity organised every year by the Sharjah Environment and Protected Areas Authority - the Sharjah International Conservation Forum for Arabian Biodiversity (SICFAB). More than 165 experts and conservation practitioners gathered there to discuss plants, veterinary issues, protected areas and vultures, and it was extremely prolific and interesting to exchange with colleagues on those topics – vultures indeed are perfect cross-cutting birds – the lappet-faced vulture, for example, one of the 5 species present in the Arabian peninsula, breeds on trees (some of them maybe endemic), while it´s conservation depends to a great extent on protected areas, while veterinary drugs are a big issue in vulture conservation – as our south Asian colleagues can testify, after seeing a collapse of the vulture populations there because of diclofenac.
The workshop cofacilitated by the VCF identified that the main threats to the regional vultures were
ü Incidental poisoning
ü Decrease in the availability of food
ü Habitat degradation, notably cutting of nesting trees
These are broadly in line with the threats identified in the other regions. The team of experts are now integrating the Middle-East input into the vulture MsAP, that is supposed to be adopted by the CMS parties later this year.
The workshop also identified large gaps in our knowledge about the vultures in the Middle-East – you can read a summary of our best available knowledge to date on distribution, status and conservation threats to the vultures in the region in the document below, prepared by the VCF to elicit discussions during the workshop.
The VCF would like to thank the Raptors MoU and the CMS for the leadership in this important process, and the Sharjah authorities for hosting us in the remarkable Arabia´s Wildlife centre and within SICFAB for this workshop.