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African vultures in crisis: the application of veterinary training and science to rehabilitation to reduce the risk of extinction to critically endangered species

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Abstract

Africa has lost 98% of all vultures over 60 years. This presentation covers the causes and implications, together with the author's involvement in training local vets and rehabilitators and the benefits achieved. Of eleven species of vultures present on the African continent, three were listed as endangered and four as critically endangered by IUCN in 2015. Two species - White Headed vultures () and Hooded vultures () - are predicted to be extinct within five years. Vultures are vital to the African biome, for example they consume 70% of fallen meat on the Masai Mara, where 50% of all vultures have been lost in the past 30 years. The author has worked with the key rehabilitation facility in South Africa (Vulpro), and veterinary clinicians, providing training in rehabilitation, triage, emergency, critical care and orthopaedic surgery. Hands-on wetlab training has been provided in South Africa to over 100 rehabilitators plus an additional 100 vets from a range of countries. In view of the number of casualties that cannot be released, training in captive breeding, including artificial incubation, has also been provided. The effect of training, applying science and diagnostics and improved medical and surgical therapy to admitted wildlife casualties and the potential for UK based clinicians to make a measurable difference to endangered species is discussed.

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