WWF-Pakistan holds an awareness raising event on White-backed vulture conservation
Lahore, WWF-Pakistan organised an awareness raising event today for the protection of vultures at Government Primary School, Block 4, in Changa Manga Forest Reserve, located near the ex-situ white-backed vulture conservation facility. Over the years the school has been educating its students on vulture conservation and the ecological importance of the species within the region.
Activities held on the annual day of the school included a lecture delivered by WWF-Pakistanís Gyps Vulture Restoration Project team, sharing of key facts about vultures and efforts currently in place for its conservation. The team shared that the drastic decline in the white-backed vulture population, which is now critically endangered, can be attributed to the use of Diclofenac Sodium in livestock, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), which causes kidney failure in vultures. The drug has been effectively banned since 2006 as an outcome to WWF-Pakistanís effective lobbying with the government.
Students were also shown a documentary titled Missing Vultures, made by WWF-Pakistan on the importance of vultures and causes of the decline in their population. The presentation was followed by an interactive quiz.
A mural painted by the students of white-backed vultures in their natural habitats with a message about their ecological significance was unveiled at the school. A large number of community elders along with parents attended the event and appreciated the efforts of WWF-Pakistan in spreading awareness regarding vulture conservation.
WWF-Pakistan has been working for the protection of the Gyps vulture for more than a decade, both through in-situ and ex-situ conservation. The Gyps Vulture Restoration Facility in Changa Manga Forest Reserve is the only ex-situ conservation initiative in Pakistan dedicated to improving the current population along with a captive breeding programme. As part of WWF-Pakistanís in-situ conservation work a Vulture Safe Zone (VSZ) was established in Nagar Parkar, Sindh in 2012. This remote area hosts the last remaining wild population of critically endangered white-backed and long-billed vultures. The objectives behind establishing the safe zone include the complete eradication of Diclofenac Sodium and other harmful NSAIDs, and enhancing the availability and usage of an alternate drug, Meloxicam, through lobbying with pharmaceuticals, veterinarians, relevant government departments and communities. Supplemented by the regular wild vulture population assessment, livestock and NSAID availability assessment studies critical for conservation planning, this initiative has also established a community based organisation (CBO) to strengthen awareness and engagement for the protection of vultures.
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