Healers oppose vulture muthi

2013-12-05 00:00

TRADITIONAL medicine practitioners have joined the cry against the killing of endangered vultures for muthi purposes.

They believe that a formal register of inyangas will prevent this from happening.

This follows the recent deaths of 37 white-backed vultures poisoned at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP).

Dr Bandile Mkhize, CEO of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Sazi Mhlongo, head of the National Association of Traditional Healers, and Timothy Ngubane, chairperson of KZN’s Traditional Health Practitioners, all agreed that a registered database of inyangas would help control and formalise the muthi industry.

“The killing of rare and endangered birds for muthi cannot be allowed to continue,” said Mkhize in a statement yesterday.

“Many collectors and harvesters of muthi are just raping our natural heritage.

“It’s a money-making racket where people are posing as izinyanga while making a quick buck.”

Ngubane, who is also the chairman of the umKhanyakude izinyanga, warned of the dangers of ingesting poisoned vulture parts as these were infected with lethal chemicals such as Temik.

He added that he didn’t want to place all the blame on bone fide inyangas for what he called the “continuing decimation of wildlife and indigenous trees and plants in KZN by false prophets”.

He protested against those selling traditional Zulu customs down the drain, describing them as “false prophets who often by-pass the real izinyanga and sell their wares at major ‘muthi’ markets”.

Sazi Mhlongo, a traditional healer and member of the Ezemvelo board, said there was falsehood and misunderstanding attached to the properties that wildlife parts played in traditional muthi.

“Because vultures have exceptional eyesight and are highly efficient in finding carrion, people think if they eat their heads and hearts they will become clever and they will pass exams, for example. This is crazy. They are destroying our natural heritage and threatening the balance of nature.”

Mkhize said if the vultures continued to be killed at this rate, they would be extinct in five years.

“People must understand their value to the tourism industry and the ecosystem.”

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