Critically Endangered Vultures Return Home
With vulture numbers continuously declining across their range, collaborations and multifaceted approaches are becoming more important in order to safeguard existing populations. Breeding endangered species in captivity is a conservation tool to protect species' genetics and boost dwindling wild populations.
Since 2007, VulPro has spearheaded vulture conservation across the continent and worked throughout the globe on critical vulture research projects. In 2011, VulPro's Cape Vulture breeding programme began with the intention of releasing all parent-reared offspring back into the wild. The programme has grown to now include 4 other African vulture species. Detroit Zoo, based in Michigan, USA, has long championed vulture conservation and education through maintaining African Vultures in their collection. After several years of planning, permitting, and preparations, finally 1 Lappet-faced Vulture and 4 Hooded Vultures from Detroit Zoo have joined the captive birds at VulPro. These birds have endured ground transport, a transatlantic flight, and 60 plus days of quarantine. Today these birds have been welcomed at VulPro where they will be integrated into the captive breeding population. They will have the opportunity to pair and breed and their offspring will be released into the wild. The 4 Hooded Vultures are the first of the species to be housed at VulPro and will form the founding breeding population.
This partnership is the first of its kind and represents a monumental step in wildlife conservation. Noteably, this is the first movement of critically endangered African Vultures from the USA back to their native continent. This is only possible because of the existence of VulPro's specialized facility, and is a testament to the conservation ethics of Detroit Zoo and the quality care their staff members provided to the birds. These birds have returned home and now have the opportunity to significantly contribute to their species' survival.