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Protected lands provide a last stand for critically endangered vultures in West Africa

Still Waters

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Among the fastest-declining birds in the world, African vultures battle many of the problems commonly plaguing wildlife today, such as habitat loss, hunting, and poisoning, but they also face a more unique set of obstacles.

Vultures and other raptors in Africa are often persecuted for regional "fetish" markets where they are sold for ritual use. For example, in West Africa, many people pay for vulture carcasses, heads, and eggs used in rituals believed to provide benefits such as protection from evil, success in business, or increased intelligence.

Public perceptions of vultures vary widely across cultures, with some viewing these birds as supernaturally powerful and clairvoyant and others as evil omens and harbingers of death. In Ghana, vultures are commonly seen as sinister and unclean due to their associations with misfortune and witchcraft.


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