VALUING THE IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATION
VulPro has always been aware of the importance of education within the field of conservation. Education provides an effective platform for creating an environmentally literate society, which understands and appreciates the vitally important role which vultures play in our ecosystem. Through educational talks, tours, programmes, and campaigns, VulPro aims to not only reach but also engage individuals, in a manner that will stimulate a change in environmental awareness and perceptions; leading to a citizenry which would rather protect than persecute this iconic species.
VULPRO’S EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES
VulPro offers a wide vary of educational activities, including:
- Facilitating school groups (including special needs) of all ages. Learners will be given an educational presentation about vultures and the work VulPro undertakes, followed by a tour of the facility. Each learner will receive an interactive vulture booklet to take home.
- Educational talks presented at venues for Universities, conferences, community meetings, schools, bird enthusiast groups and other similar interest groups.
- Community and landowner engagement
- Assesment and advice regarding the establishment of vulture artificial feeding sites.
- Facilitating post-graduate learners seeking to undertake research and experiential learning to complete their studies. (Both local and International)
- Facilitating both local and international volunteers and exposing them to hands-on practical field work including observing, tagging, monitoring, and rescuing vultures.
- An interactive website dedicated to children https://vulprokidscorner.wordpress.com/
- Corporate team building exercises including presentations, tours, or even hand-on volunteer work.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CONSERVING VULTURES
African vultures have declined by up to 90% in the last three decades which has resulted in many of them being uplisted to CITES I (This is the highest protection level awarded to a species at risk of going extinct by The Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora). It is estimated that some species, such as the once abundant African White-backed vulture could become extinct in the next 20 years. The Cape Vulture is southern Africa’s only endemic vulture species, with only 4200 breeding pairs left. This species no longer breeds in Namibia, Zimbabwe or Swaziland.
Vulture physiology and feeding behaviour have equipped them to play a vitally important role within the ecosystem, filling a niche which cannot be rivalled by any other scavenger. Vultures are responsible for keeping the ecosystem in balance by ridding the environment of decaying carcasses. Due to their uniquely strong stomach acid, vultures are able to dispose of carcasses riddled with diseases and thus preventing the spread which could cause catastrophic declines of both wildlife and livestock populations.
Additionally, vultures also have a direct impact on maintaining the biodiversity within an ecosystem (Henriques et al, 2018). As a result of their dietary habits, they speed up the decomposition process of the carcasses on which they feed, allowing the return of nutrients to the soil. This exerts a positive effect on the nutrient cycle, which then entail, impacts the biodiversity of a system.
The Asian Vulture Crisis shed light as to the importance of vultures and the catastrophic affect a vulture crisis has on both animal and human populations alike. Africa is no exception, and losing our vultures would result in a similar catastrophic collapse of our environment and ecosystems.