Since 2007 Gauntlet has been working with The Hawk Conservancy supporting the Gyps
Vulture Restoration Project at Changa Manga in Pakistan.
Each year we provide direct funding for the project, including all the kind donations made by visitors.
The centre offically opened in April 2007 as one of a number of conservation initiatives in response to the unprecedented decline in Gyps
in South Asia since the 1990's.
After years of investigation the cause of this crisis was found to be the use of the anti-inflammatory drug Diclofenac, which is used in cattle. Vultures feeding on dead
cattle treated with the drug, suffer fatal side effects such as gout and kidney failure. The effects have been so profound that in some areas populations have crashed by upto 95%.
Despite the drug having been banned in three of
the range countries (India, Pakistan and Nepal), it is unlikely to be removed quickly from the
environment. Diclofenac has been used widely in Pakistan and India, with recent unpublished reports confirming that it is still
available - at least in remote areas where regulatory enforcement is low.
Even if Diclofenac is removed from circulation within the next five years, estimated mortality
rates are currently up to 50% each year, suggesting that extinction, at least across most the
range for these species, is considered likely.
In 2004 WWF-Pakistan launched the Gyps Vulture Restoration Project in Pakistan. The
immediate project objective is to conserve a viable population of Oriental White-Backed Vultures Gyps Bengalensis
in a safe
and secure environment. Once secured, the breeding potential of the captive population
must be realised.
Additional project objectives include continued monitoring of wild populations, lobbying for
the complete removal of Diclofenac from the environment and to build staff capacity for the
eventual release of captive-bred vultures.
Plans for Pakistan's first conservation breeding facility for vultures began in 2005.
Government approval, land allocation, facility design, fundraising and staff selection took
place over the following 18 months.
The project, run by WWF-Pakistan, is a partnership between WWF-Pakistan, the Punjab
Wildlife and Parks Department, the Environment Agency, Abu Dhabi and the Hawk
Conservancy Trust. WWF-Pakistan is the project manager and staff provider, whilst the Hawk
Conservancy Trust has provided technical and training support and will contribute towards
facility running costs into the future. The Environment Agency and WWF-US provided
keystone funding for the facility construction.
The vulture conservation centre is located in a secluded area of Changa Manga forest, which
is approximately 80km southwest of Lahore. Government and local officials and project
partners attended an official opening of the facility in April 2007.