Poison is the biggest threat to vultures worldwide – that is why conservation organization and agencies like the Israel Nature & Parks Authority (NPA), along with the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, dedicate lots of resources to anti-poisoning campaigns. In Israel, like in Andalucia or other parts of Europe where such campaigns are implemented seriously, the results are there to see – for 8 years, there has been no known case of vulture mortality due to poisoning in Israel – until yesterday.
The NPA was alerted for an incident in the Golan Heights, in the north of the country – 4 griffon and two black vultures (which winters in Israel in very small numbers) were found dead, together with a Golden Jackal.
Ohad Hazofte, Israel´s vulture expert, and an avian ecologist at the NPA, suggests that this was caused by a Druze shepherd: “while an impressive anti-poisoning campaign has been organized locally since 2007, in order to reduce the “need” and motivation to poison, unfortunately some Druze shepherds were left out, though the campaign against poisoning includes the Druze high-schools, and they even won more than once the Golan Hights’ Vulture Day Quiz. As a consequence, some herds are not registered nor insured, and they may resort to this illegal and indiscriminate method”, said Hazofte.
Every year tens of thousands of vultures die across the world victims of poison, in a variety of situations and formats – ingestion of agricultural pesticides through dead animals, victims of poisoned baits laid out against predators, intoxicated with lead from hunting ammunition, and poisoned by veterinary drugs such as diclofenac – even though the same drug has been linked to the vulture crash in the Indian subcontinent (99% decline of the Vulture population there), it is now legally available to be prescribed for livestock in Spain and Italy.
The VCF has been working to minimize and prevent poisoning of birds, through contributing to the development of national strategies against illegal use of poison, promoting enforcement and enhanced crime prosecution, and raising people’s awareness. Please join us in our fight against the silent killer! Spread the news and support our work! (All photos NPA)