There has been a catastrophic decline in birds of prey the world over. There are many reasons, including loss of habitat, hunting and the use of pesticides. Vulture numbers have been particularly impacted, reducing by 99% over the last 30 years. In India, this is largely due to the use of Diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory drug, used for cattle. Vultures feeding on dead cattle cannot metabolise the Diclofenac which kills them. The loss of Indian vultures has led to a huge increase in the number of feral dogs and rabies cases. In Africa, poachers regularly bait carcasses so the vultures do not draw attention to them. Again, the loss of vultures and birds of prey has resulted in an increase in disease due to the rotting remains of dead animals being left to fester. Birds of prey are also important to our well-being closer to home. As they are top of the food chain, they help to balance ecosystems by managing the populations of smaller mammals, birds and insects - important for our farmers as well as natural areas.
Raptor Retreats bird watching holidays support a number of raptor research and conservation efforts in the destinations we cover, including:
Kèköldi Scientific Research Center, Costa Rica - Monitoring the numbers and species of birds of prey that travel through this bottle neck as part of the annual migrations. This gives us vital data on the health of raptor populations.
SEO Birdlife, Spain - The Spanish Ornithological Association is part of the Birdlife International network - the global partnership for nature and people. SEO Birdlife has a number of projects across Spain including monitoring vulture numbers in the Pyrenees.
Jatayu Conservation Breeding Center, India - With such a large reduction in Vulture numbers, the Jatayu Conservation Breeding Center is developing innovative approaches to breeding critically endangered White-backed, Long-billed's and Slender-billed vultures.
We are currently looking for new research and conservation partners to work with. Please get in touch if you have any suggestions.