Under the slogan "Birds for Birds", VintageAirRally is giving back by supporting BirdLife International (BLI). During the Crete2Cape Rally, the crews focused their fundraising efforts on saving the African vultures from extinction. Although culturally unpopular, vultures play a crucial role in the African eco-system.
You can support the Crete2Cape Crews fundraising projects here:
More information below this (amazing) video:
Vultures provide essential ecosystem services to society in both urban and natural areas, globally. They are nature’s most effective garbage disposal system, ‘Nature’s clean-up Crew’. Vultures quickly and efficiently dispose of carcasses and help prevent the spread of life-threatening and infectious diseases such as rabies, tuberculosis and anthrax. The decline of vultures in India has indirectly cost the Indian government $34 billion in treating rabies in humans as a result of increased feral dogs replacing vultures. One study estimates that a single vulture provides a scavenging benefit worth around US$ 11,600. In Spain alone, avian scavengers are capable of removing 9.9 thousand tons of carcasses per year. To maintain a healthy environment and healthy people, conserving vultures is critical, especially in Africa where the delivery of health care to local communities is highly limited.
To our detriment, we are quickly losing our African vultures. Vulture declines lead to, inter alia: increases in rotting carcasses and mammal scavengers (e.g. rats and feral dogs), disease transmission between animals and to humans with associated health costs, collection and disposal costs of animal waste, changes in food chains, increased greenhouse gas emissions from transport and disposal of carcasses, cultural impacts where the birds have cultural associations, lost tourism values, water pollution and costs to local industries.
Africa is home to 11 species of which 4 are now on the critically endangered list while another three are endangered. Unfortunately, they face many threats, and their populations have declined at devastating rates of between 70% and 97% (92% or worse in 5 species) over a period of three generations. The threats facing vultures are diverse and challenging. Vultures are being killed as a result of targeted poisoning of carnivores using baited carcasses, often in response to predation of livestock. This is one of the leading causes of vulture deaths in East and Southern Africa. As consequence of illegal wildlife trade, Elephant or rhino poachers may deliberately poison vultures which draw attention to poaching activities, or vultures may ingest poison used to kill the elephants. This is quickly becoming one of the threats responsible for the largest vulture deaths in Southern Africa. The trade in vulture body parts for use in traditional medicine threatens vultures over large parts of Africa, particularly West Africa. Vultures suffer mortality caused by collision with or electrocution by power generation and transmission infrastructure, such as powerlines and wind turbines.