Friday 15 May 2015

Zimbabwe in danger of losing its vulture population

Increased incidents of poisoning in Zimbabwe's national parks could wipe out the vulture population.
Vultures are listed as specially protected animals in Zimbabwe under the sixth schedule of the Parks and Wildlife Act.

Vultures have been dying in large numbers locally after feeding on animals that have been poisoned. There has been widespread poaching of wildlife across the country's national parks and conservancies, with poachers resorting to the use of cyanide and other veterinary and agricultural chemicals  to kill their prey.

Vultures are also killed as a result of eating dead cattle that were treated with Diclofenac by farmers. It causes kidney failure and makes their eggs infertile.

There was an incident in Gonarezhou National Park where over 191 vulture birds were killed after devouring carcases of animals that had died from poisoning.

Two years ago, Hwange National Park was also a scene of the killing of 300 elephants through
cyanide, which led to the death of several vultures.

Poachers also try to poison vultures so that they will not attract attention to carcasses of slaughtered wildlife.

There are six species of vultures found in Zimbabwe namely the lappet-faced; the hooded, the
white-headed; the palmnut, Ruppell's griffon and the white-backed.

Vultures are late maturing birds that lay only two eggs every four years, and have a very slow
population recovery rate from incidents like this.

Vulture feathers are used in traditional witchcraft in parts of Africa. The brains of vultures, when eaten, are  thought to be good for the prediction of events and social ills, and also to improve eyesight.

Over the past few years vultures have showed an alarmingly fast decline all over Africa and Asia.In places populations are down by over 90%. This has consequences for clearing up up dead animals, an increase in the number of vermin and feral dogs, and the spread of disease.

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