Above Photo: C. Kendall, North Carolina Zoo
AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction focuses the collective expertise within accredited zoos and aquariums and leverages their massive audiences to save species. African vultures are now an official SAFE species.
Save Our Scavengers
African vultures play a key role in disease control and waste removal that is critical for the stability of the ecosystems in which they live. In addition to their ecosystem service role, the threats to their survival and their conservation needs also overlap heavily with a number of other key species, such as African elephants and lions, and they are thus an ideal species to focus on for wide-reaching, landscape-level conservation efforts. The plight of African vultures has only recently been recognized, but rapid declines have been noted for almost all species throughout large portions of the African continent. This has led to the up-listing of nearly all the African vulture species on the IUCN Red List with initial up-listing in 2012 and further up-listing in 2015. Denver Zoo, North Carolina Zoo, and San Diego Zoo Global proposed African Vultures as a SAFE program in February 2017, which was accepted in August 2017. This action plan was completed in February 2018.
Photo: Ruppell's vulture at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
Program Leader: Corinne Kendall, North Carolina Zoo
Vice Program Leader: Graeme Patterson, Denver Zoo
Secretary: Sprina Liu, Dallas Zoo
Public Engagement Subcommittee Lead:
Jacque Williamson, Brandywine Zoo
Additional Steering Committee Members:
Gen Anderson, St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park
Tim Brown, Tracy Aviary
Meredith Bruhn, NC Aquarium, Pine Knolls
Jenyva Turner, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Sprina Lui, Dallas Zoo
Michael Mace, San Diego Zoo Global
Bryan Mac Aulay, Phoenix Zoo
Mike Maxcy, Los Angeles Zoo
Taylor Rubin, Zoo Atlanta
Tom Schneider, Detroit Zoo
Anne Tieber, St. Louis Zoo
Raptors Botswana (RB)
Kalahari Research and Conservation (KRC)
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)
The Peregrine Fund
Ruaha Carnivore Project (RCP)
Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS)
FCC Liaison: Tim Brown, Tracy Aviary
Raptor TAG advisor: Scott Tidmus, Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Advisor: Andre Botha (IUCN Vulture Specialist Group)
Program Partners: Brandywine Zoo, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Dallas Zoo, Denver Zoo, Los Angeles Zoo, North Carolina Zoo, San Diego Zoo Global, St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, St. Louis Zoo, Tracy Aviary, Zoo Atlanta, Detroit Zoo, Phoenix Zoo, NC Aquarium-Pine Knolls
Photo: Denver Zoo
African Vulture SAFE Species
African vulture species function as a scavenging guild with each species providing unique adaptations necessary to find and dispose of carrion collectively. As such, it makes more sense to focus conservation efforts on a suite of African vulture species rather than a single species.
This subset of African vultures was selected for the SAFE program for a number of reasons. First, these are the most common African vulture species found in AZA institutions. Second, a number of zoos already had conservation initiatives linked to these species at the time of the submission of the proposal for African Vultures as a SAFE program. Finally, these species have a large amount of overlap in their geographic distribution (with the exception of Ruppell’s and Cape Vultures) and share similar threats and thus conservation needs. Our program can thus focus on a few key activities that can have a positive effect on all six species considered here.
African Vulture SAFE 3 Year Action Plan
The 3-Year Action Plan prepared by the African Vulture SAFE steering committee outlines the strategic needs and plans for coordinate SAFE program partners.
African Vulture Multi-Species Action Plan (MSAP)
The MSAP is a collaborative action plan covering 128 range states which aims to provide a comprehensive, strategic conservation Action Plan covering the geographic ranges of all 15 species of migratory African-Eurasian vultures and to promote concerted, collaborative and coordinated international actions towards the recovery of these populations to acceptable levels by 2029.