Vulture conservation in Namibia seems to be between a rock and a hard place!

Given the state of conservation of vultures and other scavenging species in Namibia and neighbouring countries, the scope of the 2010 ‘National Plan of Action for the Conservation of the Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres) in Namibia’  should obviously be much wider than its original objective.  This Plan insinuates that there is inadequate regional information and collaboration to support regional conservation efforts for Cape Vultures and other avian scavengers. It  highlighted a lack of information and public awareness about vultures: 

People are not aware of the important role (ecological, social and economic) that 
vultures play in the ecosystem; 

People are not aware of the impacts of their actions on vultures and other 
scavenging species; 

People are not aware of the economic opportunities that vultures can provide in 
the broader tourism sector;

People are not aware of the scientific opportunities that vultures provide for better 
understanding the role of scavengers in the ecosystem; and  

People are not informed about what they can do to help vultures survive in an 
increasingly hostile environment. 

Several people were identified to establish a regional web-based avian scavenger information system and platform that covers the following (I presume in no order of priority): 

• Satellite tracking info   
• Register / database of mortalities (spp, age, date, place, cause, etc)  
• Names and contact details of participating people & institutions 
• Register / database of re-sightings of marked birds 
• Register / database of vulture restaurants 
• Register / database of interesting vulture sightings (general) and field records 
• Down-loadable copies of data sheets / monitoring forms 
• Down-loadable copies of conservation information and materials (booklets, posters, brochures), good practice guides (e.g. how to set up a vulture restaurant, how to prevent vultures drowning in farm reservoirs), etc. 
• Down-loadable info for the media, press releases, etc 
• Information on topical and pertinent issues, e.g. veterinary drugs, muti trade, electrocutions and collisions with power lines, drowning in farm reservoirs, etc. (nothing about *poison* and other harmful chemicals used or discarded in the mining, energy and building industries???)
• Register / database of active researchers and current projects 
• Recent grey and published literature 
• Species Conservation Action Plans 
• Progress on implementing Action Plans 
• An interactive Forum for exchanging ideas, notifying people about developments, etc. 

Looking through this list, and reflecting on the personalities and institutions engaged by this master plan, it would appear that there’s been some confusion about who takes responsibility for this information system.  I would imagine that any meeting of stakeholders dealing with the latest poisoning events would benefit from a frank appraisal of this system.  Not only in Namibia, but also at an international scale.  
There are simply too many disjunct silos operating in isolation, replicating effort. 
 
The very nature of  the ‘web’ makes the word ‘regional’ superfluous.  I think that a well-kept Vultures Namibia web-site, along with the judicious use of meta-tags should work fine to allow collation of such information from a wide diversity of sources.  
Critically, this network of potentially collaborative actors/actresses should not be partitioned by traditional sectors of ‘responsibility’ – such sectoral expectation inevitably leads to a blame game, and inconsequential actions. Provide realistic targets and diversify the custodianship or stewardship if you will.  Don’t overburden or presuppose responsibilities.  
We can then, hopefully, get past poorly managed environmental bureaucracies pissing against the wind, and see some actions and outcomes, instead of another inevitable ream of master(ful?) plans designed to skilfully generate another ream of plans.
 
 
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