Muti blamed for poisoning of KZN vultures

2013-11-27 12:15
Headless white-backed vultures strewn across the ground at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, KZN.

Headless white-backed vultures strewn across the ground at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, KZN.

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Cape Town – The mass poisoning of nearly 40 white-backed vultures outside Durban has been blamed on the muti trade after 29 of the birds had their heads removed, according to conservation authorities.

“This loss represents a significant number of young vultures which should have been recruited into the system and could have an effect on the future breeding potential of vultures in the Zululand area,” said Dr Dave Druce, park ecologist for Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park.

Preliminary investigations after the 21 November incident indicate that the vultures had been poisoned.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife has opened a case with the police and the carcasses have been taken for toxicology analysis to determine the type of poison used.

Lotto numbers

In an earlier report, Dr Gerhard Verdoorn, director of the Griffon Poison Information Centre, told TimesLive of traditional healers' beliefs that sleeping with a vulture’s head gives a person clairvoyant powers like predicting sports scores and lotto numbers.

According to Andre Botha, who co-chairs the IUCN vulture specialist group, the large-scale loss of birds in southern Africa that can be linked to the muti trade has emerged as a major threat that could devastate populations in the region.

“Incidents in the Caprivi, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique in the last two years have resulted in the loss of a conservative estimate of at least 2000 vultures,” Botha told News24.

“We feel that this should be treated with the same degree of concern and at the same level of priority as the threat to rhino and elephant,” he said.

The nearby uMkhuze Game Reserve has lost two thirds of its white-backed vulture population after several poisoning incidents over the last few years.

Most of the vulture species occurring in the region are either listed as endangered or vulnerable.

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Read more on:    iucn  |  durban  |  conservation  |  poaching
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