Event Detail


Vultures on the Brink: Proactive Vulture Conservation in South Africa

Chris Kelly & Peter Jean (PJ) Roberts
Tuesday, 20 Jul 2021
7.00 pm to 8.00 pm
The event is free of charge for members. For guests or non members, the registration fee is $50. Please click https://www.rgshk.org.hk/payment-for-vultures-webtalk-on-tue-20-jul. The webinar link is going to be sent at 12.30 pm on Tuesday, 20 July.
In this talk, Chris Kelly and PJ Roberts explain how nature's most important clean-up crews are on the brink of extinction. The crucial ecosystem services that vultures provide in the environment go largely under-appreciated. These soaring scavengers play an important role in disposing of carcasses and removing diseases from the system. Vultures rank among the most vulnerable of Africa’s large birds with all six vulture species now classified as either Critically Endangered or Endangered.

Due to their wide-ranging habits, vultures are exposed to a wide variety of threats, making their conservation a very challenging task. Due to poisoning, habitat degradation, population fragmentation, limited food availability, human disturbance and electrical infrastructure collisions, up to 90% of the breeding populations have been wiped out.  One of the biggest problems that vultures face is the use of poisons to kill and harvest the body parts of vultures for traditional belief-based use. 

Wildlife ACT’s work is focussed around the KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa, but the conservation implications are far-reaching.  The aim is to promote population growth of both tree- and cliff-nesting vulture species.  The Emergency Response Unit of Wildlife ACT is the first at the scene in many instances and offers lifesaving first aid to poisoned birds in the field and decontaminating poison sites immediately, saving hundreds of birds.  Other conservation measures include GPS tracking, tagging and monitoring, nest surveys, responding to the demand for traditional medicine, education and lead testing.

Chris Kelly, Co-founder and Director of Species Conservation, is from South Africa and has a National Diploma in Nature Conservation.  Chris has over 20 years of conservation biology experience, and has dedicated his career towards endangered species conservation.  He co-founded Wildlife ACT in 2008 with a major focus on protecting vultures.  He is a member of the IUCN Vulture Specialist Group, the South African National Vulture Task Force, the Zululand Vulture Project and the Bearded Vulture Task Force.

Peter Jean (PJ) Roberts, Senior Manager for Vultures & the Human Wildlife Co-Existence Programme, comes from the Western Cape province of South Africa, and is currently finishing his MSc at Rhodes University in Ecology.  Over the past six years PJ has focused his professional energy on priority and endangered species conservation and human wildlife co-existence in South Africa.  He is a senior field officer for Wildlife ACTs Vulture Project and manages its Emergency Response Team. 

The opinions expressed in this talk are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of the Royal Geographical Society - Hong Kong.       

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