For the first time on record, Lilongwe Wildlife Trust has recently reported a sighting of an Egyptian vulture, an endangered species that has never before been seen in Malawi.
The Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List due to global population and geographic range declines over the last century.
The Egyptian vulture, also known as the white scavenger vulture or pharaoh's chicken, is a trans-continental migratory species native to Europe, Asia and Africa.
Lilongwe Wildlife Trust is at the forefront of tracking and monitoring vultures in Malawi with its Conserving Malawi’s Vultures Project, which seeks to develop the first vulture-focused conservation initiatives in Malawi by integrating research, monitoring and public/stakeholder engagement.
These sightings demonstrate the value of long-term monitoring work in Liwonde National Park, and are critical in developing conservation tools for these wide-ranging threatened species.
Vultures are the only documented obligate scavengers and provide essential ecosystem services, making them a keystone species. However, despite their importance, vulture populations worldwide are in rapid decline.
In fact, seven of the 11 species that occupy ranges in Africa are categorised as endangered or critically endangered by the IUCN.
However, due to a recent increase in ecosystem restoration initiatives, vultures have slowly returned to selected protected areas in Malawi, creating a renewed opportunity for the research and conservation of these highly threatened species.