Skip to main content Accessibility help

Vulture declines, threats and conservation: the attitude of the indigenous Ghanaian



Understanding the attitude of people towards vultures, especially factors that influence behaviours that support their conservation, is crucial if the decline in vultures is to be slowed and reversed. Their vital ecosystem function in keeping the environment free of carcasses and reducing the spread of disease is not yet appreciated in Ghana. Little is known about the attitude of Ghanaians’ about vultures. Structured questionnaires and key informant surveys were employed with a sample size of 460 respondents randomly selected across Ghana. Over 85% of respondents were familiar with the Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus and vultures were culturally important to 56% of respondents. Diseases that affect livestock are claimed to be treated with chemicals such as diclofenac sodium to which vultures are highly susceptible globally and livestock carcasses were not available to vultures as 53% of respondents bury carcasses. A new poisoning pathway has emerged in which furadan is used to poison wildlife for bushmeat and the offal removed which is then consumed by vultures, as indicated by 78% of respondents. The majority of respondents positively thought vultures were important and must be protected. Poisoning, habitat loss particularly the loss of silk cotton tree Ceiba pentandra and trade in vulture parts for traditional medicine are major threats to vultures in Ghana. Continuous awareness creation, positive attitude towards the environment, vulture conservation programmes and protection of breeding sites were some urgent conservation actions recommended to ensure the survival of vultures.



Hide All
Anderson, M. (2000) Raptor conservation in the Northern Cape Province, South Africa. Ostrich 71: 2532.
Andrade, G. S. and Rhodes, J. R. (2012) Protected areas and local communities: An inevitable partnership toward successful conservation strategies? Ecol. Soc. 17: 14.
Angelov, I., Hashim, I. and Oppel, S. (2013) Persistent electrocution mortality of Egyptian Vultures Neophron percnopterus over 28 years in East Africa. Bird Conserv. Internatn. 23: 16.
Arnulphi, V. B. C., Lambertucci, S. A. and Borghi, C. E. (2017) Education can improve the negative perception of a threatened long-lived scavenging bird, the Andean condor. PloSOne 12: e0185278.
Aryee, B. N. (2001) Ghana’s mining sector: its contribution to the national economy. Resourc. Policy 27: 6175.
Awuah-Nyamekye, S. (2009) Salvaging nature: The Akan religio-cultural perspective. Worldviews: Glob. Relig. Cult. Ecol. 13: 251282.
Baral, N., Gautam, R. and Tamang, B. (2005) Population status and breeding ecology of White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis in Rampur Valley, Nepal. Forktail 21: 87.
Basson, P. A. (1987) Poisoning of wildlife in southern Africa. J. South Afr. Veterin. Assoc. 58: 219228.
Beilis, N. and Esterhuizen, J. (2006) The potential impact on Cape Griffon Gyps coprotheres populations due to the trade in traditional medicine in Maseru, Lesotho. Vulture News 53: 1519.
Bengis, R., Kock, R. and Fischer, J. (2002) Infectious animal diseases: the wildlife/livestock interface. Revue Scientifique et Technique-Office international des épizooties 21: 5366.
BirdLife International (2015) The BirdLife checklist of the birds of the world . <> (accessed 16.06.2016).
Borrow, N. and Demey, R. (2010) Field guide to the birds of Ghana. London, UK: Bloomsbury Publishing.
Brooks, J. S., Waylen, K. A. and Mulder, M. B. (2012) How national context, project design, and local community characteristics influence success in community-based conservation projects. Proc. Natl. Ac. Sci. 109: 2126521270.
Buechley, E. R. and Şekercioğlu, Ç. H. (2016) The avian scavenger crisis: looming extinctions, trophic cascades, and loss of critical ecosystem functions. Biol. Conserv. 198: 220228.
Buij, R., Nikolaus, G., Whytock, R., Ingram, D. J. and Ogada, D. (2016) Trade of threatened vultures and other raptors for fetish and bushmeat in West and Central Africa. Oryx 50: 606616.
Clements, T., Gilbert, M., Rainey, H. J., Cuthbert, R., Eames, J. C., Bunnat, P., Teak, S., Chansocheat, S. and Setha, T. (2013) Vultures in Cambodia: population, threats and conservation. Bird Conserv. Internatn. 23: 7124.
Conde, C., Lonsdale, K., Nyong, A. and Aguilar, I. (2005) Engaging stakeholders in the adaptation process. Pp. 4766 in Adaptation Policy Frameworks for Climate Change. Developing Strategies, Policies and Measures. United Nations Development Programme, Global Environment Facility. Technical Paper No. 2. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.
Cortés-Avizanda, A., Martín-López, B., Ceballos, O. and Pereira, H. M. (2018) Stakeholders perceptions of the endangered Egyptian vulture: Insights for conservation. Biol. Conserv. 218: 173180.
Croes, B., Buij, R., van Dalen, J. and de Iongh, H. (2008) Livestock-carnivore conflicts: results of an inventory around Bénoué National Park, Cameroon. Pp. 2940 in Croes, B. M., Buij, R., Bauer, H. and de Iongh, H. H., eds. Management and conservation of large carnivores in West and Central Africa. Proceedings of the InternationalSeminar Organized by CEDC/CML, November 15–16, 2006 in Maroua,Cameroon.
Darling, D. A. (1957) The Kolmogorov-Smirnov, cramer-von mises tests. Ann. Mathemat. Statist. 28: 823838.
Dyer, J., Stringer, L., Dougill, A., Leventon, J., Nshimbi, M., Chama, F., Kafwifwi, A., Muledi, J., Kaumbu, J.-M. and Falcao, M. (2014) Assessing participatory practices in community-based natural resource management: Experiences in community engagement from southern Africa. J. Environ. Manage. 137: 137145.
Elujoba, A. A., Odeleye, O. and Ogunyemi, C. (2005) Review-traditional medicine development for medical and dental primary health care delivery system in Africa. Afr. J. Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines 2: 4661.
Fabricius, C., Koch, E., Turner, S. and Magome, H. (2013) Rights resources and rural development: Community-based natural resource management in Southern Africa. London, UK: Routledge.
Green, R. E., Newton, I., Shultz, S., Cunningham, A. A., Gilbert, M., Pain, D. J. and Prakash, V. (2004) Diclofenac poisoning as a cause of vulture population declines across the Indian subcontinent. J. Appl. Ecol. 41: 793800.
Greenwood, P. E. and Nikulin, M. S. (1996) A guide to chi-squared testing. NewYork: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Hernández, M. and Margalida, A. (2008) Pesticide abuse in Europe: effects on the Cinereous vulture (Aegypius monachus) population in Spain. Ecotoxicology 17: 264272.
Houston, D. C. (1972) The ecology of Serengeti vultures. Doctoral dissertation, University of Oxford.
Karanth, K. K. and Nepal, S. K. (2012) Local residents perception of benefits and losses from protected areas in India and Nepal. Environ. Manage. 49: 372386.
Kuvlesky, W. P., Brennan, L. A., Morrison, M. L., Boydston, K. K., Ballard, B. M. and Bryant, F. C. (2007) Wind energy development and wildlife conservation: challenges and opportunities. J. Wildl. Manage. 71: 24872498.
Madeddu, M., Berlinguer, F., Ledda, M., Leoni, G. G., Satta, V., Succu, S., Rotta, A., Pasciu, V., Zinellu, A. and Muzzeddu, M. (2009) Ejaculate collection efficiency and post-thaw semen quality in wild-caught Griffon vultures from the Sardinian population. Reprod. Biol. Endocrinol. 19: 718.
Mander, M., Ntuli, L. Diedericks, N. and Mavundla, K. (2007) South Africa’s traditional medicines industry. Pretoria, South Africa: Department of Trade and Industry.
Margalida, A., Bogliani, G., Bowden, C. G., Donázar, J., Genero, F., Gilbert, M., Karesh, W., Kock, R., Lubroth, J. and Manteca, X. (2014) One Health approach to use of veterinary pharmaceuticals. Science 346: 12961298.
McKean, S., Mander, M., Diederichs, N., Ntuli, L., Mavundla, K., Williams, V. and Wakelin, J. (2013) The impact of traditional use on vultures in South Africa. Vulture News 65: 1536.
Moleón, M., Sánchez-Zapata, J. A., Margalida, A., Carrete, M., Owen-Smith, N. and Donázar, J. A. (2014) Humans and scavengers: The evolution of interactions and ecosystem services. BioScience 64: 394403.
Morales-Reyes, Z., Martín-López, B., Moleón, M., Mateo-Tomás, P., Olea, P. P., Arrondo, E., Donázar, J. A. and Sánchez-Zapata, J. A. (2018a) Shepherds’ local knowledge and scientific data on the scavenging ecosystem service: Insights for conservation. Ambio 48: 4860.
Morales-Reyes, Z., Martín-López, B., Moleón, M., Mateo-Tomás, P., Botella, F., Margalida, A., Donázar, J. A., Blanco, G., Pérez, I. and Sánchez-Zapata, J. A. (2018b) Farmer perceptions of the ecosystem services provided by scavengers: What, who, and to whom. Conserv. Lett. 11: e12392.
Morelli, F., Kubicka, A. M., Tryjanowski, P. and Nelson, E. (2015) The vulture in the sky and the hominin on the land: three million years of human–vulture interaction. Anthrozoös 28: 449468.
Mundy, P. J. (1992) The vultures of Africa. Randburg, South Africa: Acorn Books.
Oaks, J. L., Gilbert, M., Virani, M. Z., Watson, R. T., Meteyer, C. U., Rideout, B. A., Shivaprasad, H., Ahmed, S., Chaudhry, M. J. I. and Arshad, M. (2004) Diclofenac residues as the cause of vulture population decline in Pakistan. Nature 427: 630633.
Odino, M. and Ogada, D. L. (2008) Furadan use in Kenya and its impacts on birds and other wildlife: a survey of the regulatory agency, distributors, and end-users of this highly toxic pesticide. Report to the Bird Committee of Nature Kenya, 17.
Ogada, D., Shaw, P., Beyers, R. L., Buij, R., Murn, C., Thiollay, J. M., Beale, C. M., Holdo, R. M., Pomeroy, D. and Baker, N. (2016) Another continental vulture crisis: Africa’s vultures collapsing toward extinction. Conserv. Lett. 9: 8997.
Ogada, D. L., Keesing, F. and Virani, M. Z. (2012) Dropping dead: causes and consequences of vulture population declines worldwide. Ann. New York Ac. Sci. 1249: 5771.
Opare-Ankrah, Y. (2007) The bushmeat trade, livelihood securities and alternative wildlife resources: a case study of Mankessim and its environs in the Mfantseman District (Ghana). Master’s thesis. Trondheim: Norwegian Unibersity of Science and Technilogy, Fakultet for samfunnsvitenskap og teknologiledelse.
Otieno, P. O., Lalah, J. O., Virani, M., Jondiko, I. O. and Schramm, K.-W. (2010) Carbofuran and its toxic metabolites provide forensic evidence for Furadan exposure in vultures (Gyps africanus) in Kenya. Bull. Env. Contam. Toxicol. 84: 536544.
Owusu-Ansah, N. (2010) Evaluation of wildlife hunting restriction on bushmeat trade in five major markets around Digya National Park, Ghana. MA thesis submitted to University of Cape Coast, Ghana.
Pain, D. J., Cunningham, A., Donald, P., Duckworth, J., Houston, D., Katzner, T., Parry-Jones, J., Poole, C., Prakash, V. and Round, P. (2003) Causes and effects of temporospatial declines of Gyps vultures in Asia. Conserv. Biol. 17: 661671.
Pfeiffer, M. B., Venter, J. A. and Downs, C. T. (2015) Identifying anthropogenic threats to Cape Vultures Gyps coprotheres using community perceptions in communal farmland, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Bird Conserv. Internatn. 25: 353365.
Phipps, W. L., Willis, S. G., Wolter, K. and Naidoo, V. (2013) Foraging ranges of immature African white-backed vultures (Gyps africanus) and their use of protected areas in southern Africa. PLoS One 8: e52813.
Prakash, V., Pain, D., Cunningham, A., Donald, P., Prakash, N., Verma, A., Gargi, R., Sivakumar, S. and Rahmani, A. (2003) Catastrophic collapse of Indian white-backed Gyps bengalensis and long-billed Gyps indicus vulture populations. Biol. Conserv. 109: 381390.
Reson, E. (2012) Assessing Maasai attitudes and perceptions toward vultures: A case study of resident Maasai around Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. Master’s thesis, Clemson University, South Carolina.
Santangeli, A., Arkumarev, V., Komen, L., Bridgeford, P. and Kolberg, H. (2017) Unearthing poison use and consequent anecdotal vulture mortalities in Namibia’s commercial farmland–implications for conservation. Ostrich 88: 147154.
Sanz-Aguilar, A., De Pablo, F. and Donázar, J. A. (2015) Age-dependent survival of island vs. mainland populations of two avian scavengers: delving into migration costs. Oecologia 179: 405414.
St John, F. A. V., Keane, A. M., Edwards-Jones, G., Jones, L., Yarnell, R. W. and Jones, J. P. G. (2011) Identifying indicators of illegal behaviour: carnivore killing in human-managed landscapes. Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond. B: Biol. Sci. 279: 804812.
Stein, R. L., and Stein, P. (2015) Anthropology of religion, magic, and witchcraft. London, UK: Routledge.
Swan, G., Naidoo, V., Cuthbert, R., Green, R. E., Pain, D. J., Swarup, D., Prakash, V., Taggart, M., Bekker, L. and Das, D. (2006) Removing the threat of diclofenac to critically endangered Asian vultures. PLoS Biol . 4: e66.
Tabi, M. M., Powell, M. and Hodnicki, D. (2006) Use of traditional healers and modern medicine in Ghana. International Nursing Review 53: 5258.
Thiollay, J.-M. (2006) Severe decline of large birds in the Northern Sahel of West Africa: a long-term assessment. Bird Conserv. Internatn. 16: 353365.
Virani, M. Z., Kendall, C., Njoroge, P. and Thomsett, S. (2011) Major declines in the abundance of vultures and other scavenging raptors in and around the Masai Mara ecosystem, Kenya. Biol. Conserv. 144: 746752.
Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Deikumah supplementary material
Deikumah supplementary material 1

 PDF (534 KB)
534 KB
Supplementary materials

Deikumah supplementary material
Deikumah supplementary material 2

 Word (16 KB)
16 KB

Vulture declines, threats and conservation: the attitude of the indigenous Ghanaian



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.