The Swart Berg incident in KwaZulu-Natal in June 2013, in which 65 Cape griffon Vultures were poisoned with carbofuran is still fresh in the memory of conservationists and was followed by an incident in Hluhluwe-Mfolozi Game Reserve in which 37 African white-backed vultures were poisoned for traditional medicine.
Dr Gerhard Verdoorn, from the Griffon Poison Information Centre, said the spate of vulture poisoning incidents in southern Africa calls for very strong action from conservation agencies. “Vulture poisonings have increased on the back of poaching. The birds are deliberately poisoned after rhinos have been poached so the carcasses aren’t detected by game rangers.
“The increase in livestock predation also contributes to the misuse of agricultural remedies to poison predators that inadvertently leads to vulture poisoning.”
Verdoorn said vulture poisonings tarnished the image of livestock owners who are generally in full support of vulture conservation.
“It is also time for traditional healers to take a stance against the poisoning of animals. Traditional medicine should only be harvested in the true traditional ways and not by means of poisoning wild animals,” said Verdoorn.
* The Griffon Poison Information Centre calls on all South Africans to be vigilant and report individuals who deliberately attempt to poison wildlife to the 24-hour emergency number 082 446 8946.