International Vulture Awareness Day is not only a day to acknowledge and celebrate the critical role scavenging vultures play in preventing the spread of disease by consuming bacteria-infested carrion. It is also a day to become more aware of their plight. Around the world, vultures are facing hazards in the wild and their numbers are dwindling. As nature’s recyclers, they play an important role in a variety of ecosystems, and it’s up to us to help save them.
The International Vulture Awareness Day has grown from Vulture Awareness Days run by the Birds of Prey Program in South Africa and the Hawk Conservancy Trust in England, who decided to work together and expand the initiative into an international event. It is now recognized as a coordinated international day publicizing the conservation of vultures to a wider audience and highlighting the important work being carried out by the world’s vulture conservationists.
Above the ocean. I saw through half-shut eyelids a vulture wheeling high up in heaven,
And presently it passed again, but lower and nearer, its orbit narrowing, I understood then
That I was under inspection. I lay death-still and heard the flight-feathers
Whistle above me and make their circle and come nearer.
I could see the naked red head between the great wings
Bear downward staring. I said, “My dear bird, we are wasting time here.
These old bones will still work; they are not for you.” But how beautiful he looked, gliding down
On those great sails; how beautiful he looked, veering away in the sea-light over the precipice. I tell you solemnly
That I was sorry to have disappointed him. To be eaten by that beak and become part of him, to share those wings and those eyes–
What a sublime end of one’s body, what an enskyment; what a life after death.