breeding success for critically endangered Oriental White-backed Vultures

Posted: 10th March, 2017

The Hawk Conservancy Trust is thrilled to announce the hatching of two further Oriental White-backed Vulture chicks at the conservation breeding centre at Changa Manga, near Lahore in Pakistan. This exciting news for this critically endangered species follows the breeding success of last April, which was the first successful breeding of this species in captivity in Pakistan.

The long incubation period (about 52 days) for Oriental White-backed Vultures added to the suspense of this delicate yet crucial process.  A successful breeding programme will underpin the future conservation efforts, which include reintroduction of vultures to the wild.

The latest two chicks are now both over eight weeks old and continue to grow well under the watchful eye of their parents.  They have been making strong progress, with one of the chicks overcoming a blocked nostril, which improved dramatically thanks to excellent care and attention from Abdul Ghaffar, Aviary Supervisor.

Dr Campbell Murn, Head of Conservation and Research at the Hawk Conservancy Trust said, “This is another boost for the project in Pakistan.  We are increasingly confident about the future in terms of breeding at the Changa Manga centre, but the project needs improvements in the field in the Vulture Safe Zone.  Further work to remove vulture-unsafe veterinary drugs from circulation is essential, as is protection of vulture breeding sites in the wild.  Without these improvements, releases that are planned for the future will be delayed”.

Three species of vulture in south Asia that previously numbered in the tens of millions were nearly wiped out from 1995 – 2005 because of a veterinary drug called diclofenac. The vultures died after eating the carcasses of domestic cattle that had been treated with the drug. Whilst diclofenac has been banned, it is still used illegally and there are other vulture-unsafe veterinary drugs still in circulation.   

The Hawk Conservancy Trust is a charity based just outside of Andover, Hampshire, with a mission to conserve birds of prey.  The long-established charity has been working on a breeding programme for vultures in Changa Manga, Pakistan together with partners WWF-Pakistan since 2004.

The project in Pakistan is run by WWF-Pakistan and the Hawk Conservancy Trust and is part of the regional conservation consortium SAVE (Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction), a partnership of NGOs, government departments and industries working together to rescue and recover populations of these critically endangered species.

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