Muti spells doom for our vultures

The warnings from conservation experts are ominous: if the current massacre of vultures – often for muti purposes – is not curbed, the African white-backed vulture will be extinct in less than five years.

Over the past weekend, wildlife authorities in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) found the carcasses of 47 whitebacked vulture carcasses, 35 of which had their heads removed.

ALSO READ: 47 White-backed vultures killed in mass poisoning in KZN

Already the vulture is considered extinct as a breeding bird in Zululand in KZN and other species, including the Cape vulture, are also at risk.

Even though these birds may be considered safe because they nest in protected reserves or parks, they forage for food over long distances, making them vulnerable to human predators.

The threat to vultures is escalating across Africa, with reports of mass poisonings of the birds – and the removal of their heads for muti – coming from places such as Kenya and Botswana.

ALSO READ: Endangered vultures poisoned for muti

It will serve little purpose tracking down those responsible without, as in the case of the rhino, trying to educate the end-users about the importance of the species.

There needs to be cooperation from conservationists, the government and community leaders to spread the message about the importance of vultures as nature’s “garbage removers” and to find acceptable alternatives for muti practices.

ALSO READ: White-backed vultures being poisoned by lead from ammunition, new study finds





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