Though the mop-topped vultures in Disney's Jungle Book claimed to be our friends 'til the bitter end, us mancubs haven't been showing the love back. In fact, in the past couple of decades, humans have been contributing to a major vulture population crisis in East Asia and Africa.
In 2003, the Boise-based Peregrine Fund found that a drug called diclofenac, an anti-inflamatory drug used on livestock in East Asia, was responsible for the sudden death of huge numbers of Gyps vultures.
"Literally, hundreds of thousands of vultures died through the '80s and '90s, where they're down to about 1 percent of their numbers, which were in the millions at one time," explained Mark Purdy, education coordinator at the Peregrine Fund.
In order to bring attention to this underpublicized crisis, which isn't affecting vultures in the United States, the Birds of Prey Working Group in South Africa and the Hawk Conservancy Trust in England have helped organize an inaugural International Vulture Awareness Day, Saturday, Sept. 5.
Out at the Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, they're throwing an I.V.A.D. bash—complete with a live turkey vulture named Lucy. The event also promises some kids' events, as well as screenings of the movie The Last Flight, which explores the vulture crisis in India.
Raising some much needed awareness, now that's what friends are for.
Saturday, Sept. 5, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., $5-$7, World Center for Birds of Prey, 5668 West Flying Hawk Lane, Boise, 208-362-3716.