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International Vulture Awareness Day

Vultures play an important role in nature as the sanitary engineers of the environment. They keep the planet clean, reduce the spread of disease and are environmental indicators of the health of ecosystems.

To celebrate their important role, September 5th has been designated International Vulture Awareness Day by the Birds of Prey Working Group in South Africa and the Hawk Conservancy Trust in England. The goals of this celebration are to highlight vulture awareness and conservation at each participating organization through fun activities, games and conversations with the people who care for vultures.

Lahore Zoo, Pakistan

Lahore Zoological Gardens is one of the world's oldest zoos and its major aim is to educate visitors on environmental and conservation issues. The Lahore Zoo has many educational activities which are meant to entertain and provide ample opportunities to inspire zoo visitors, especially children, towards conservation.

International Vulture Awareness Day is especially important to the Lahore Zoo Education Department because nine species of vultures are native to South Asia, all of which are facing a drastic decline in population. Two species, the white-backed vulture and the long-billed vulture, are listed as critically endangered. The decline in the vulture population has been blamed on the extensive use of the Diclofenac Sodium, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) which is commonly used in livestock in the Indian-subcontinent for the treatment of lameness, fever, etc. Diclofenac Sodium, which is widely available and inexpensive, accumulates in the kidneys of vultures when they feed on carcasses and eventually leads to their death.

During the celebration, Lahore Zoo director, Syed Zafar-ul-Hasan welcomed visitors and shared the important role vultures serve. He also announced plans for a captive vulture breeding program. Deputy director Anwar Man and Education officer Bushra Nisar Khan spoke with visitors about the value of these birds as an indicator species and ways to help these important species. All visitors received a poster of vulture images and facts; the posters were provided by WWF-Pakistan.

 

Disney's Animal Kingdom and Animal Kingdom Lodge

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Animal Kingdom Lodge, activities included vulture coloring masks, a trivia game, a demonstration of vulture digestion, wingspan and the running abilities of the Ruppell’s griffon vulture. Visitors were given a magnet with conservation actions they could take to positively impact vultures.


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