Birdlife SA says ‘new vulture find’ was a publicity stunt

2015-09-03 09:15
Photoshopped image Tuluver.

Photoshopped image Tuluver. (Supplied)

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BIRDLIFE SA yesterday came clean that their claim of a new vulture find, announced earlier this week, was a publicity stunt.

In a statement the organisation admitted to digitally altering an image of the Lappet-Faced Vulture to become the “Tuluver” from Limpopo and apologised for any “feathers ruffled” by its “out of the box” campaign.

In a video released on its Facebook page it showed how they created the Tuluver while asking the public to pay more attention to the plight of vultures under the tagline “Vultures are beautiful”.

The Witness yesterday outed the Tuluver as a hoax before Birdlife SA made any formal statement.

Birdlife SA CEO Mark Anderson said the organisation’s “carefully planned campaign” prompted a “social media storm”. “We were overwhelmed by the response of our initial post and, for example, we reached about 250 000 through our Facebook page alone during the first 48 hours. Many more were reached through other media,” he said.

As part of the publicity campaign the creation of the Tuluver which is an anagram of Vulture, was to coincide with International Vulture Awareness Day on September 5.

“Science forms the basis to much of BirdLife SA’s work, so we realised that we could open ourselves up to criticism by announcing the discovery of a fictitious bird. We do, however, know that, in our important bird conservation work, awareness is immensely important, and therefore out-the-box type campaigns are occasionally necessary. … We must be willing to be bold if we are to help ensure that Africa’s vultures do not follow the same path as their Asian cousins or the California Condor in North America,” said Anderson.

The stunt was undertaken by communications agency Utopia. The company’s creative partner Carl Cardinelli said they wanted to assess how people would respond to a beautiful new bird as opposed the generally deemed ugly vultures.

“Many people simply don’t know of the ecological value vultures have, and regard them as ugly.

“Our idea was to test the notion of whether people would notice vultures if they were beautiful or new and exciting. We created a new, fictitious bird, the ­Tuluver, with all the important characteristics of a vulture, except we made it more traditionally beautiful.”

Anderson said Africa’s vultures are in “serious trouble” with the populations of three species already having been decimated.

The release announced that BirdLife International is implementing a major conservation plan for vulture conservation in Africa

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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