Conservation of African vultures takes center stage at global bird race

The spectacular ‘Champions of the Flyway’ global bird race will take place in Israel this month. For the first time ever, Kenya will be participating in the race with a team comprising of three Nature Kenya and three NABU (Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union, BirdLife in Germany) staff. Conservation of African vultures is this year’s race focus, with proceeds raised from the event earmarked for this cause.

A project in Africa, Kenya to be precise, has been chosen as the beneficiary of funds raised by the event. The project – ‘Preventing Poisoning to Save Africa’s Vultures’ – is currently running in Maasai Mara, Narok County. Under this project, Nature Kenya, the Peregrine Fund, BirdLife International and the Kenya Birds of Prey Trust are involved in several initiatives aimed at reducing poisoning-related wildlife deaths. Teams signed up for the race are also independently raising funds to help tackle the rapid and catastrophic decline of African vultures.

‘Champions of the Flyway’ is an annual event organized by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (BirdLife in Israel) in partnership with BirdLife International. This year, seventeen teams of birders from across the globe will converge at Eilat, southern Israel, from 20th March to compete in a 24-hour race to identify bird species at a designated area (the whole of southern Israel). The race will take place on 26th March with the team identifying the most bird species being crowned the 2019 ‘Champions of the Flyway’.

Nature Kenya’s Paul Gacheru, Rebecca Ikachoi and James Mutunga will be joining forces with NABU’s Dirk Wegener, Thomas Tennhardt and Werner Schroeder under team ‘Zeiss Vultures Unlimited’. The team is raising funds to support community awareness on the negative impacts of wildlife poisoning, create local community champions for vulture conservation and train KWS rangers and community members on rapid response to wildlife poisoning incidents in the Maasai Mara area. They will be battling it out with teams of birders from the United Kingdom (UK), the United States (US), Holland (the Netherlands), Italy, Canada, South Africa, Switzerland and Israel.

The ‘Champions of the Flyway’ race is a culmination of an intensive fundraising exercise for the benefit of birds. Every year a conservation cause is chosen, in collaboration with BirdLife International, and all participating teams raise money and awareness for the chosen cause. The campaign has raised over $350,000 for bird conservation projects in Georgia, Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey, Serbia and Croatia.

The 24-hour bird-spotting race also generates great drama and excitement and reaches out to a huge international audience with over one million people being exposed to the project annually via social media platforms.

‘Champions of the Flyway’ is the brainchild of the Israel Ornithological Center of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel. Having an exciting bird race at the peak of migration to catch the attention of birders was the idea behind the event.

Your support counts!

African vultures are under serious threat of extinction. These majestic birds that act as nature’s “clean-up crew” need your support to remain in the skies. You can participate in this cause to save African vultures by supporting team ‘Zeiss Vultures Unlimited’ achieve its fundraising target. To find out more or make a donation kindly type this link on your web browser: http://bit. ly/2D9WooL  and hit the enter key.

You can also visit the ‘Zeiss Vultures Unlimited’ official webpage http:// or check out the ‘Champions of the Flyway’ film to get a real feel of the event.