A week had not passed since the Conference of the Parties of the Convention for Migratory Species endorsed and adopted enthusiastically the Vulture Multi-Species Action Plan, and another episode of mass poisoning of vultures emerged, again in Africa, the continent where vulture declines are at its steepest and where we can talk about a vulture crisis.
The bodies of 49 vultures (and two jackals) were found by rangers in Limpopo National Park, in Mozambique‚ just across the border from Kruger National Park in South Africa, when they investigated two poaching camps as part of an anti-poaching programme in the transborder area, funded by the Peace Parks Foundation.
Rangers suspect that the poachers had laced a number of antelope carcasses with chemical poisons with the intention of poaching lions‚ whose body parts are in increasing demand for local and Eastern traditional medicine. In the first incident‚ 37 dead vultures and two jackals were found next to poisoned carcasses of a waterbuck‚ wildebeest and impala. At the second site the poisoned carcass of a zebra was surrounded by the remains of 12 more vultures
Vultures are particularly vulnerable to mass die-offs from poison baits laid out to kill other high-value wildlife species. Last year‚ nearly 150 vultures were killed in two poison incidents in northern Botswana. In Zambia‚ another 105 vultures were poisoned in South Luangwa National Park and another 56 vultures on the boundaries of Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park.
This is a sad reminder on why the Vulture Multi-Species Action Plan was desperately needed – and an urgent reminder for all now to rally behind this document – which was co-developed by the Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF), and contribute to its implementation.
Archive photo: VCF