The end may be near for the birds whose very presence reminds us of our own ends: vultures. Last week, BirdLife International released a grim new assessment that found that extinction threatens 7 of Africa’s 11 vulture species (6 of which have seen their conservation statuses worsen). Their use in traditional Asian medicine, accidental poisonings, and the deliberate targeting from poachers who don't want the circling scavengers to expose their deadly deeds are all contributing to the birds’ free fall.
The above video, part of the organization’s campaign to save “nature’s cleanup crew,” explains, from a bird’s-eye view, why we should appreciate these winged carcass-eaters, not fear them. Vultures prevent the spread of disease and…well, I’ll let you watch the video before giving away any more spoilers. (Though, if we let vultures go extinct, more spoilage is something we'll have to get used to.)
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Scientists respond to an Associated Press article that paints black vultures and turkey vultures as “flying fiends.”