International Vulture Awareness Day (IVAD) is the annual event celebrated globally to highlight the crucial role that vultures play in ecosystems and to raise awareness about the conservation challenges they face. On this day, organizations, conservationists, and nature enthusiasts come together to educate the public about the importance of vultures in maintaining ecological balance and the urgent need to protect these remarkable birds from threats such as habitat loss, poisoning, and the illegal wildlife trade. IVAD serves as a reminder of the significance of vultures in our natural world and the collective responsibility to ensure their survival for future generations.
On Saturday September 2nd, IVAD saw SAVE partners actively engaged in all six range countries, working diligently to raise awareness about vultures and the hurdles they confront.
International Vulture Awareness Day 2023 took place at the in Moulvibazar, at the heart of Vulture Safe Zone 1. Mr. Iqbal Abdullah Harun, Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, was the chief guest of the event and Mr. Md. Amir Hosain Chowdhury, Chief Conservator of Forests at the Forest Department, presided over the event. The event saw participation from over 500 students from various schools in Moulvibazar and proved to be a highly engaging gathering, with lively discussions involving school students, teachers, government officials, and a diverse panel of experts. The event was conducted in the district in an effort to raise awareness of vultures, in light of the recent poison-baiting incident that killed 12 vultures in the area.
Over 500 students and children participated in the IVAD 2023 in Bangladesh
In the event specially catered towards children, Mr. Harun stated, “Vultures are a key part of our environment, and we are trying our best to protect them from going extinct. You are the future generations and you will also have to play your part to protect vultures of Bangladesh.”
Guests and panelists at IVAD 2023 in Bangladesh
Brochures designed for children were handed out to the students, and they were encouraged to carry on the message of IVAD to their homes and friends. Also present in the event were representatives from the local government, Mayor Office, DC Office, Police Department, and senior officials of Forest Department.
Over 500 students, children and guests attended the IVAD 2023 even in Bangladesh.
In Assam, India, the Vulture Conservation Breeding Centre observed International Vulture Awareness Day during Vulture Week 2023 with a lively inter-school drawing competition. Around 1200 students from twenty schools across urban and rural Kamrup participated. The competition theme, “Nature and Vultures,” encouraged creative expression and raising awareness about these endangered birds. The BNHS event showcased diverse artistic talents as students expressed their imaginations on paper. Both private and government schools united for this inclusive event, with each school’s best drawings earning recognition. Two age groups ensured fair competition and peer-based judgment, fostering enthusiasm among students. The day’s highlight was the prize distribution ceremony at VCBC Assam, attended by esteemed guests Mr. Jayanta Goswami, Range Officer Rani, and Mr. Prafulla Rabha, the Village Head. Eighty prizes and certificates were awarded to deserving participants. Range Officer Mr. Jayanta Goswami commended the students and schools for promoting vulture conservation and environmental awareness, stressing the importance of such initiatives in preserving the region’s unique biodiversity.
IVAD celebrated in Assam, India
In Tamil Nadu, Arulagam created murals in 12 villages within the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve and eight in the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve in collaboration with noted artist R. Sivakumar, from Thiruvannamalai. This artistic initiative aims to raise awareness about vulture conservation. The murals serve as educational tools, engaging local communities, especially children, who learn about the importance of vultures in the ecosystem. Arulagam emphasizes the need to protect these birds and encourages reporting of injured chicks and safe disposal of carcasses. They plan to expand this project to vulture habitats in Kerala and Karnataka. IVAD was also celebrated in Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary by Hume Centre for Ecology and Wildlife Biology (HCEWB), and Arulagam as well through awareness events. Furthermore, in Karnataka, IVAD was celebrated by the local Forest Department, where around 250 participants attended the program. Mr. Chris Bowden, Programme Manager, SAVE/RSPB, also talked about vultures, and vulture conservation at an event at Ramanagara in Karnataka, organised with Karnataka Forest Department and the Karnataka Vulture Conservation Trust. Moreover, various other programme organized by Arulagam marked the IVAD in India, including exposure visits of local vets, and street theatre event focusing on vultures were displayed.
Chris Bowden, Programme Manager, SAVE, speaking at IVAD event in Karnataka (top right); Some of the 250 participants at IVAD event in Ramanagara (top right); Vet exposure visit, Tamil Nadu (bottom left); Children with vulture banners and posters at IVAD event in Tamil Nadu (bottom right)
In Nepal, the 15th IVAD is observed throughout the first week of September each year, featuring a series of collaborative awareness programs with local conservation partners aimed at reaching diverse segments of society. Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN) plays a pivotal role in disseminating conservation information. The highlights of IVAD encompass the Lumbini Provincial Workshop on Vulture Conservation, during which the Finance Minister of Lumbini pledged budget allocation for vulture preservation.
Awareness activities in Nepal to celebrate the IVAD 2023
Additionally, a Teej program showcased singing and dancing performances by various women’s groups and students near a Vulture Safe Feeding Site, using artistic expressions to convey messages on vultures and biodiversity. A panel discussion on “Gaps and Priorities for Vulture Research and Conservation in Nepal” was held, along with school awareness programs across different districts and a street drama performance by IOF students, emphasizing vulture conservation.
Art competition in various places in Nepal for IVAD 2023
Moreover, art competitions engaging school students took place in various districts to raise awareness about vultures, and media broadcasts covered topics such as vulture status, importance, and conservation strategies. Furthermore, Nepal conducted National Vulture Counts as part of the initiative, aiming to establish baseline data on vulture populations through citizen science on a single day nationwide.
WWF-Pakistan launched an awareness campaign on social media including Facebook, Instagram and X to amplify the message and engage a wider audience about ecological role of vultures in the ecosystem, threats faced by vultures, the conservation efforts message and the key message to ban and not use the harmful veterinary drugs including aceclofenac and ketoprofen for vultures. In collaboration with local schools, series of awareness sessions were conducted about vulture conservation. School children also visited Changa Manga Vulture Breeding Centre and were sensitized about vulture conservation. Students had the opportunity to ask questions and interact with the experts. A documentary on vultures was also released on WWF YouTube channel to reach a broader audience.
IVAD activities in Changa Manga, Pakistan
In Cambodia a dynamic event uniting vulture enthusiasts, conservationists, and the local community to celebrate these magnificent birds and promote their conservation took place. The day featured engaging activities such as vulture photography displays, wingspan tests, and a vulture-themed selfie spot. The event began with a Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP) representative’s introduction, followed by talks on vulture conservation, ecology, history, and their status in Cambodia. Interactive competitions were organized highlighted the benefits of vultures. Bird-watching ecotourism and cultural performances were spotlighted, and insights into vulture-tagging and monitoring at Siem Pang Wildlife Sanctuary were shared.
IVAD awareness materials developed for Cambodia
An open discussion allowed key speakers to address questions, and a vulture information competition tested knowledge. The day concluded with a closing speech, emphasizing vulture conservation. Throughout, vulture photography, information galleries, wingspan checks, and a selfie point remained open, ensuring continuous vulture awareness. International Vulture Awareness Day 2023 in Cambodia effectively deepened understanding of vultures and their ecological importance while celebrating their significance in Cambodia’s natural heritage.
International Vulture Awareness was celebrated by Myanmar Vulture Working Group (MVWG) – working together with local partner organizations throughout Myanmar and individually. Activities were shared of each participating organization on social media to learn about the activities and the important role of vultures in ecosystem. On 2nd September, various conservation organizations, online media and naturalists/conservationists in Myanmar participated in sharing their appreciation of the crucial role of vultures in our ecosystem. MVWG uploaded the short video to enhance understanding of vultures and inspire conservation actions.
*Post written and compiled by Sakib Ahmed