Certain species of vulture are not only endangered but classified as critically endangered, including the slender-billed, red-headed, and white-rumped vulture. The “critically endangered” classification means that these species, along with animals such as the European mink and brown spider monkey, are very close to being extinct in the wild.
Dropping Populations and Possible Recovery
All three species can be found in southern Asia, particularly Cambodia, India and Nepal. Their dramatic drop in population has been linked to the use of the livestock drug Diclofenac. Vultures are scavengers, and they ingest the drug by feeding on carcasses of livestock. Diclofenac is highly toxic to vultures. Because of this, the population of these species has dropped by an astonishing 99% over the last 20 years. However, due to discontinuation of the use of Diclofenac, their populations are beginning to stabilize.
The Cape Griffon Vulture
Another species of vulture, the Cape Griffon vulture, is listed as “vulnerable” by the World Conservation Union. Vulnerable species are close to becoming endangered. The Cape Griffon vulture is suffering not only from loss of habitat but also poaching and, more commonly, mass accidental poisonings.
Farming Practices Putting Vultures at Risk
The Cape Griffon vulture is native to South Africa. There, it is common practice for farmers to poison the carcasses of livestock. It is a cheap and efficient method of killings potential predators such as jaguars. Unfortunately, this practice will also kill any other scavenger, including the Cape Griffon vulture. As large numbers of vultures tend to descend on a single carcass at once, just one poisoned carcass can kill multiple birds.
“WWF – Critically Endangered Vultures.” WWF – Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2012. http://cambodia.panda.org/wwf_in_cambodia/endangered_species/birds/critically_endangered_vultures/
“The Hindu : Today’s Paper / IN SCHOOL : Critically endangered vultures now stable: report.” The Hindu : Home Page News & Features. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2012.
“The Beauty of Ugly – Why is the Cape Griffon Vulture going extinct? | Nature | PBS.” PBS: Public Broadcasting Service. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2012.