Species name: lappet-faced vulture
Nominated by: Pro Wildlife
IUCN Red List classification: Endangered
What is so special about your species?
In our society vultures are an omen of death. The myth that vultures circle dying animals waiting for their meal is deeply rooted and has badly damaged the image of those majestic animals. However, vultures fulfil an important function within our ecosystems and are highly specialised. For example, their strong stomach acid can kill deadly bacteria which allows them to safely digest carcasses infected with dangerous diseases such as anthrax and hog cholera bacteria.
Many vulture species are threatened with extinction which has the potential to destabilize entire ecosystems, as vultures play an important role in disposing of dead animals.
What are the threats to this species in the wild?
Habitat loss and degradation, and toxins are the main threats faced by vultures. African species, such as the lappet-faced vulture, have become victims of the cattle drug ‘diclofenac’ and poisons used to kill predators such as jackals and hyenas. Vultures are also deliberately poisoned by poachers as their circling behaviours act as an alarm for authorities and expose the poachers’ illegal activities.
Vultures only produce a few offspring during their lifetime, resulting in a slow recovery from dramatic population crashes.
What can people do to help your species?
Worldwide banning of the chemicals that kill vultures indirect would help them to recover themselves. By combating illegal poaching in Africa, the cause for systematic poisoning of vultures can be tackled. Pro Wildlife supports local organisations to stop the illegal hunting of animals and to maintain the balance of the ecosystem.