Celebrating International Vulture Awareness Day on 5 September, BirdLife South Africa made an announcement of the discovery of a new species of bird called the Tuluver discovered in South Africa.
This however turned out to be an unusual yet effective PR stunt.
The Tuluver’s image was conceived by editing a picture in Photoshop of the endangered Lappet-faced Vulture, the largest vulture in Africa. By making the announcement of the Tuluver and then later debunking it in an artful Youtube video entitled Exclusive footage of ‘Tuluver’ revealed, BirdLife South Africa has made not only the plight of this bird a public one, but very heartfelt.
After running the actual image editing process backward on screen, the video revealed the original endangered species made to look like the Tuluver (the word “Vulture” re-arranged), asking: “If we can get this passionate about discovering a new species, why can’t we get as passionate about losing one?”
The vulture has long been given a bad rap, but actually they play a very important ecological role in Africa and other parts of the world. They help prevent the spread of rabies, tuberculosis and other diseases. The vulture’s numbers are being depleted due to poisoning, electrocution on powerlines, persecution and habitat loss.
Mark D. Anderson, CEO of BirdLife South Africa was quoted as saying: “The increased absence of vultures in some parts of the world, such as South Asia, has already led to an increase in feral dogs and, in turn, rabies – at huge cost to human health.”
While the video revelation irked some due to its non-factual nature, this was an effective campaign. The video enjoyed 18622 Youtube video views (at the time of writing) and the campaign earned 81 million media impressions.