A word of caution for vulture “restaurateurs”

Veterinary PHARMACEUTICALS EXPERTS have cautioned vulture “restaurant” operators against putting out animal carcasses recently treated with veterinary medicines for vultures to feed on.

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Veterinary PHARMACEUTICALS EXPERTS have cautioned vulture “restaurant” operators against putting out animal carcasses recently treated with veterinary medicines for vultures to feed on.

This stemmed from research conducted by Dave Walker of the town of Rhodes in the Eastern Cape Highlands, for a planned vulture feeding site to protect local populations of endangered bearded and Cape vultures.

Vinny Naidoo, an expert in veterinary pharmacology at Onderstepoort, told Walker a veterinary painkiller known as diclofenac was shown to be highly toxic to Old World vultures like Cape griffons and African white-backed vultures. “Veterinary use of this drug has resulted in declines in vulture numbers by more than 98% across South Asia,” he said.

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If vulture “restaurant” managers can’t avoid using previously medicated carcasses, it’s recommended they remove and destroy the livers and kidneys, as they contain the highest concentrations of toxic drugs. However, Euthanasia agents and game capture drugs could still be toxic in carcasses. – Lloyd Phillips Contact Dr Vinny Naidoo on (012) 529 8368 or e-mail [email protected]

Sharon fruit for the sick and needy

SA’s Sharon fruit industry WILL donate several hundred tons of fruit to institutions during their harvest season between May and July. The Cape region is the only place in the southern hemisphere where this fruit, which is a member of the persimmon family, can be grown to fill the gap in the market after the conclusion of the northern hemisphere season.

The first consignment has already been handed over to the Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu at his HIV foundation’s Emavundleni Vaccine Centre in Guguletu near Cape Town.

Dr Linda-Gail Bekker, the deputy director of the foundation, welcomed the gift because fruit is a rich source of sugar, vitamin B2 and vitamin C. It’s also known for its antioxidant and cholesterol-lowering properties.

She said the foundation strongly recommends that people seek HIV testing,and if infected establish care plans and commence with antiretroviral therapy. She stressed that throughout this period healthy nutrition and lifestyle is vital and Sharon fruit is ideal as part of a healthy eating plan.

South Africa’s Sharon fruit industry is relatively young, having been established during the past 10 years after the growing conditions in the western and southern Cape were identified as ideal. To date, some 500ha of Sharon fruit have been planted and this will increase to 1 200ha by 2010.

According to Cornie Swart, a Sharon fruit industry executive, it was decided to share some of the year’s harvest with people who struggle to make ends meet, following a steady growth in production.

Donated fruit will be transported from the central Arisa packhouse at Buffelsjagrivier in the southern Cape to centres in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Although institutions to benefit from the donations have already been identified, other organisations in the two regions will still be considered. – Glenneis Erasmus