Comment has been invited by the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Ms Barbara Creecy, on the Draft Multi-species Biodiversity Management Plan for Vultures in South Africa.
The Draft Multi-species Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP) was published in Government Gazette 47632 (Notice No. 2817) on 2 December 2022 in terms of the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act (NEMBA). Members of the public have 30 days from date of publication of the Notice to submit comments to the Department.
Africa is home to 11 of the 15 species of what are known as Old World vultures. These birds play a crucial role in the environments in which they live by cleaning up animal carcasses in the veld thus helping ecosystems to remain healthy.
Vulture populations have declined considerably in most range states in Africa in the last 30 years. Because of a lack of collective and decisive action these declines are continuing. The situation in South Africa, which is home to nine vulture species, is not unique.
Of the nine species found in South Africa, seven have been known to have established breeding populations in the species range state.. All of these face varying threats of extinction.
The cliff-nesting species are the Bearded Vulture and the Cape Vulture, while tree-nesting species include the Hooded Vulture, White-backed Vulture, Lappet-faced Vulture, White-headed Vulture and Palm-nut Vulture. The Egyptian Vulture, although once considered a resident breeding species, has not bred within South Africa since the 1920’s and is considered a non-breeding species for the purpose of this BMP.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species (2021), three of the seven vulture species that breed in South Africa have moved from globally Vulnerable or Endangered to Critically Endangered between the 2014 and 2015 assessment periods. These are the White-headed, Hooded and White-backed Vulture.
As a result of the continued decline in vulture populations, a BMP for vulture species found in South Africa has been developed through an intensive consultation process to ensure the future growth of these populations within the country by ensuring a safe and secure environment in which all the components of a vulture’s life cycle are fulfilled.
This will be achieved through the reduction of the key threats facing the species, including intentional and unintentional poisoning, collisions with powerlines and other energy infrastructure, habitat change, as stakeholder involvement in the conservation of the species is improved and communities, including traditional medicine practitioners, are educated about the importance of the birds in the ecological cycle. It will ensure the implementation of responsible and sustainable practices that will contribute to the conservation of the species. The adoption of the Draft BMP will also ensure South Africa meets its obligations within the Convention on Migratory Species Multi-Species Action Plan for Vultures.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of South African Government.