|Vultures gather for a meal. Photo by Himalayan Nature|
Vulture restaurants don’t serve vulture, they serve carcasses to vultures, and they are an important way to help recover vultures – in Asia, IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, classifies four species as Critically Endangered.
This is largely due to a drug given to livestock.
In Asian countries, people give diclofenac, a drug similar to aspirin or ibuprofen, to livestock to ease arthritic pain.
But vultures are hyper-sensitive to diclofenac. When they feed on livestock carcasses that had received the drug when they were alive, vultures die. And vulture population numbers have tumbled drastically since the drug came into use.
IUCN says that the white-rumped vulture was at one time called “possibly the most abundant large bird of prey in the world,” adding that its overall population “almost certainly numbered several million individuals.” But since the mid-1990s, IUCN says, “it has suffered a catastrophic decline (over 99%) across the Indian subcontinent,” and IUCN puts the total population now at less than 15,000.
There is good news. Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan have passed laws to eliminate veterinary use of diclofenac, although it remains easily available in many areas, and diclofenac meant for humans is often given to animals.
We are dedicated to helping develop a new generation of conservation professionals – one that reflects the increasing diversity of America itself. And our partnership with Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., will help us engage more Americans in a meaningful way. Dr. Mario Brown, International Coordinator of Sigma Beta Clubs, the fraternity’s youth auxiliary, talked about the partnership, which turned 1 in April, in the summer issue of Fish & Wildlife News.
On May 19, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took an important step in our partnership to engage urban youth in outdoor recreation and STEM education, that is, learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
We established a local relationship at Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge in New Orleans that will stand as the model for increasing our broader partnership efforts.
With a model in place, let’s now challenge ourselves to put it to good use.
This young couple drove their car from Argentina! They're touring Alaska and then plan to drive back to Argentina.
That’s a lot of driving. But what an amazing trip!
Some of our folks developed a fun Buzzfeed quiz to see where you stand.
We work hard with partners to identify ways to avoid impacts to sensitive habitats and species. When damage can’t be avoided, conservation of another area can sometimes offset the impacts. Biologists with our Transportation Planning Program work with state Departments of Transportation and other agencies to make sure the nation’s roads work for people as well as the environment.
At the Johnson Canyon mitigation site on Otay Mesa in California, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) restored and conserved more than 50 acres of predominantly vernal pool habitat to offset impacts resulting from the construction of State Route 125 in San Diego.
This summer, a small group of high school students strengthened the Sachuest salt marsh in Rhode Island, planting more than 175 native grass plugs along the wetlands of the Maidford River. This Hurricane Sandy funded resilience project at Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge, in partnership with Save the Bay, aims to expand, cover and recolonize an area on the marsh that has been bare since the mid 2000s.
Jennifer Malpass is a doctoral student in the Fisheries and Wildlife Science program at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, who spent her summer as part of the Directorate Resource Assistant Fellows Program, assisting the Migratory Birds Program in our Northeast Region with the development of the American common eider conservation action plan.