For the second year running, VulPro – The Vulture Conservation Programme of South Africa has been awarded the prestigious PAAZA (Pan-African Association of Zoos and Aquaria) conservation award for their vulture conservation work.
Last year VulPro was recognised and awarded for their captive breeding programme which resulted in the successful release of captive bred Cape Vulture chicks for population supplementation, the first ever on the African continent.
This year VulPro was recognised for their hard work and commitment to saving vultures through rehabilitation, education, population monitoring and surveys, research, captive breeding and ongoing involvement and interaction with landowners, farmers and the general public.
Kerri Wolter VulPro’s founder and CEO was at the awards evening to accept the award and is honoured to have won the award for a second year. She and her team work tirelessly to save SA’s vultures.
Winning the PAAZA award is no mean feat, as the stringent criteria listed below shows:
- The award may be given to any individual or organization irrespective of whether he/she/it is a member of PAAZA or not.
- A fully paid-up member of PAAZA must propose the candidate.
- The proposal must be accompanied by a concise but thorough motivation identifying the candidate, relevant highlights of his/her/its pertinent accomplishments, significance for conservation and reasons for his/hers/its nomination.
- The accomplishment for which the candidate is being honoured MUST be focused upon Africa as defined in the constitution of PAAZA.
- The accomplishment MUST have a significant impact on the conservation of an African species, species diversity, and ecosystem or resource management.
- If the particular accomplishment has been recognised in any way by other any other entity, it is no reason for the exclusion from the PAAZA Conservation Award and may in fact, add to the credentials of the candidate.
- Any candidate may receive the award more than once even in consecutive years. As this deals with the contribution of the person or organization, the motivation shall be evaluated and investigated by the Executive Committee of PAAZA, or the Award sub-committee who shall follow up any references and secure peer opinion of the candidate.
The PAAZA Conservation Award is an award to be given by PAAZA to honour the individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to the conservation of African species diversity or ecosystems.
Vultures are vital indicators of the health of our ecosystem and are invaluable guardians against disease outbreaks of Botulism, Anthrax and Foot and Mouth due to their amazing ability to metabolise these deadly bacteria with no danger to themselves. They are however very susceptible to poison, certain NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as Ketaprofen, lead toxicity, habitat loss and threats such as power lines. VulPro’s vital work has far reaching benefits for all by helping to stabilise
and recover wild population numbers limiting disease epidemics, ensuring healthy wildlife and limiting unnecessary loss of stock in the agricultural sector. VulPro’s impact is particularly important in poorer rural areas, where families often rely solely on their livestock for survival.
VulPro approaches vulture conservation in an integrated, multidisciplinary fashion, by combining education and good science, with networking, capacity building and knowledge generation.
Some of Vulpro’s contributions to date are:
- Instrumental in arranging for the conversion of numerous dangerous power lines and pylons to ‘bird-friendly’ structures and conducting ongoing surveys to monitor potentially problematic structures.
- First organisation in South Africa to fit tracking devices onto vultures using the backpack harness design.
- Directly, 64 162 adults and children from schools, clubs and other groups have benefited from VulPro’s educational outreach programme over the 6 years. Indirectly, many more individuals have been reached.
- VulPro reaches 5000 followers on Kerri Wolter’s Facebook profile and 4912 on VulPro’s page, 706 on Twitter, 183 on Instagram as well as VulPro’s Kid’s Corner having achieved 6462 views from 3439 visitors worldwide. Mandy Schroder has also started a vultures board on pinterest (May 2016) one person is already following and repining posts.
- VulPro’s Media Awareness Campaign in which they partnered with The Tusk Trust and Continental Outdoor Media reached an average of 742 611 views in February alone.
- VulPro, the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Veterinary Sciences and together with project partners were instrumental in identifying Meloxicam as to-date, the only safe alternative NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) for use in India following the Asian vulture crisis which lead to 99% of the vulture populations to crash. The lead cause of this decline was found to be diclofenac which was used to treat livestock and upon the animal’s death, vultures were exposed to the drug via the consumption of the carcass.
- VulPro’s research has also assisted in identifying the NSAID Ketaprofen as being fatal to vultures. VulPro has worked to ensure that the use of Ketaprofen has been stopped when the treated animal’s carcass is planned for feeding vultures. VulPro’s work has culminated in the product leaflet stating that the product is NOT safe for vultures and that carcasses containing Ketaprofen should be incinerated or buried.
- VulPro Co-authored 39 published peer reviewed papers.
- VulPro has become the leaders in setting standards for vulture rehabilitation, vulture captures for research purposes and the correct techniques for fitting tracking devices onto vultures. First organisation to fit tracking devices onto Hooded vulture nestlings in Africa as of September 2013.
Read more about VulPro’s initiatives: