The plight of African vultures has already reached the international conservation agenda, with several species declining rapidly, up to the point that the IUCN decided to downgrade the conservations status of 6 species, including 4 that became critically endangered - one of those species is the Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus, mostly due to large declines in eastern Africa – the species still seems to be common in some areas of west Africa.
Population studies of vultures are few and far between in Africa, so any data documenting the distribution, population dynamics and declines are welcome – one such study was recently published about the decline of an urban Hooded Vulture population in Dakar, Senegal, over 50 years.
As in many West African cities, in Dakar Hooded Vultures have always been characteristic urban scavengers. The authors undertook a survey of its current status in Dakar and compared with historical data over the past 50 years. They found a strong decrease of >85%, from 3 000 individuals in 1969 to 400 in 2016. This decline is on the high end of the decline noticed over much of its range but in striking contrast with the apparently stable populations in the Lower Casamance, Senegal, in the Western Region of The Gambia and in Guinea-Bissau.
Likely causes of this decline are (1) exponential urbanisation resulting in loss of feeding sites and reduced food availability, (2) increased poisoning of feral dogs with strychnine sulphate due to an upsurge of rabies and (3) increased disappearance of suitable trees for nesting and roosting.
You can download the paper below.
The VCF and its partners have been working on anti-poisoning activities, campaigns and programmes in Europe and Africa, and we will continue to do so to try to help vultures worldwide. Poison received a lot of attention in the recently developed Vulture Multi-Species Action Plan (MsAP), prepared by VCF and other partners in the framework of the Convention for the Migratory Species, and that includes all African vulture species. The Vulture MsAP will hopefully be approved by all signatory states in the next Conference of the Parties this fall, and will then be a significant tool to address these massive poisoning incidents and therefore revert the continuing decline of African vultures.