Vultures for National Geographic magazine

Ruppell's Griffon vultures (Gyps rueppellii), Ndutu plain, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, Africa for a vulture articel for National Geographic Magazine, IUCN - endangered.

Vultures are one of the fastest declining group of birds in history. Some species have experienced declines of up to 99% in India and other parts of Asia and Africa’s vulture population is currently experiencing a similar catastrophic decline. The reason is predominantly poisoning in both continents, but for very different reasons (along with the usual problem of habitat loss and declining food sources). I love vultures. We should all love vultures. Not only do they perform a very valuable service cleaning up the bodies of dead animals (vulture consume more meat on the Serengeti than all other predators and scavengers combined), but they clean up pathogens such as TB, rabies and they can even consume and destroy anthrax. Studies suggest that India experienced a substantial rise in human related deaths from rabies when the vultures disappeared – a result of an exploding feral dog population who filled the niche left by the vultures. Estimates put the number of extra human deaths at 35,000; with an associated cost to India of around $34 billion. For the National Geographic magazine article I travelled to Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, South Africa and Spain to cover the story of vultures – their brilliance and their decline. The article features in the Jan 2016 issue.

 

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