Red List updates: Cape Vultures and Buttonquails downlisted 

The previously Endangered Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres) has been downlisted to Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. This is one of many changes to the Red List status of bird species that occur in the Overberg.  

Other species that have been affected by the changes include the Damara Tern, Maccoa Duck and the Fynbos Buttonquail.

Although downlistings are often the result of better information and research rather than a genuine improvement in status or population, the good news regarding the Cape Vulture has mostly been welcomed by conservationists, ornithologists and bird-lovers alike.

Images: Sharon Brink

According to Dr Alan Lee in the African BirdLife magazine (March/April 2022), “Stable and even increasing populations have been attributed to the protection of colonies, rescue efforts and constant monitoring. Nevertheless, the species remains at severe risk of poisoning. Not everyone agrees with the change…”

The Cape Vulture is threatened by poisonings, as well as power line collisions and electrocution, habitat loss and unsustainable traditional uses.

The Overberg is an especially vital region for the Cape Vulture: the only breeding population of this species in the Western Cape is on the Potberg mountains in the De Hoop Nature Reserve.

In the past, the OCG played an important protection role for Cape Vultures, tending to tired and dehydrated juvenile Cape Vultures that had flown off course and exhausted themselves. These birds were cared for during a short rehabilitation period and were then released in Potberg to rejoin the breeding population.

Other species that occur in the Overberg that were reassessed for the Red List update are:

Image: Steve Peck

2022 Red List update

The Fynbos Buttonquail’s status was reassessed for the 2022 Red List update, and therefore does not yet reflect on the IUCN’s Red List site.

For a species’s global conservation status to be downlisted, strict criteria must be met in terms of range and population size and trends. The regional status from the Red Data Book of Birds, however, remains unchanged for all these species. BirdLife SA is currently in the process of reviewing the Regional Red List for South Africa, which they say is now out of date. This new list will certainly take into consideration the new Global Red List status for the species.


  • African Birdlife, March/April 2022
  • BirdLife South Africa
  • IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
  • Globally Threatened Bird Forums – BirdLife South Africa: