Birds killed for muthi?

2019-06-14 13:07
Raptor Rescue’s Ben Hoffman opens the wings of an adult White-backed vulture that was poisoned in Zululand on Wednesday. The vulture, of breeding age, is one of 18 vultures that were poisoned on Wednesday with two juveniles so far surviving the incident. Another 11 vultures died of poisoning last Friday in Zululand. PHOTO: ian carbutt

Raptor Rescue’s Ben Hoffman opens the wings of an adult White-backed vulture that was poisoned in Zululand on Wednesday. The vulture, of breeding age, is one of 18 vultures that were poisoned on Wednesday with two juveniles so far surviving the incident. Another 11 vultures died of poisoning last Friday in Zululand. PHOTO: ian carbutt

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

In just one week, 29 critically-endangered vultures have been poisoned in two separate incidents in KZN leaving 27 dead and two juvenile White-backed vultures still fighting for their lives.

The first poisoning took place on Friday. Conservationists at a private game reserve in Zululand came across 11 dead vultures — seven African White-backed, three Lappet-faced and one White-headed vulture.

The reserve alerted the Zululand Vulture Project and Zap-Wing, the aerial wing of Project Rhino, to help ground crews searching the area.

Chris Kelly from Wildlife ACT and the Zululand Vulture Project said both the African White-backed and White-headed vultures are listed as critically endangered, with populations declining dramatically in the past decade in KwaZulu-Natal.

Kelly said during an aerial survey in 2018, Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife recorded no White-headed breeding pairs.

“This is indicative of the decline of this species in Zululand and is of major concern for vulture conservationists,” he said.

The second poisoning occurred on Wednesday this week where 18 White-backed vultures were poisoned, also in Zululand. This happened in the same area but not on the same property.

Kelly said an antelope carcass was poisoned in both cases, killing the vultures that ate the flesh.

Two juvenile White-backed vultures that have so far survived the poisoning but are “extremely weak” are currently in the care of Raptor Rescue in Camperdown.

Director and raptor expert Ben Hoffman said it is believed the vultures were killed for muthi purposes. He said there is a major muthi market in Zululand that supplies Warwick Triangle muthi market in Durban and another market in Johannesburg.

He said the dead vultures would be frozen and from there samples would be taken for lead testing to determine the type of poison used. He said the carcasses would be sent to the University of KwaZulu-Natal for genetic recording.

He added that the bone marrow would also be tested as lead levels were higher in the bone than the blood.

He said out of the 18 poisoned vultures, seven were certain to have had nests. It is currently breeding season for vultures.

He said the two surviving birds are “clinging to life” and said it can take up to six months to rehabilitate a poisoned vulture.

A statement issued on behalf of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Wildlife ACT and the Zululand Vulture Project said one of the recovered Lappet-faced carcasses was a tagged individual nearing breeding age. “This particular vulture has been re-sighted on numerous occasions throughout South Africa and has recently returned to its KwaZulu-Natal range, probably with the intention of breeding within the next few years. Its loss is a major blow to the province’s breeding Lappet-faced vulture population.”

The poisoning is being investigated by the Zululand SAPS Stock Theft Unit. A criminal case has been opened.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.