alexa Alarm raised on vulture poisoning - Daily Nation

Alarm raised on vulture poisoning

Sunday January 26 2014

PHOTO | FILE Bird lovers have called on pastoralists in semi-arid and arid areas to stop putting pesticides on cattle carcasses to trap lions and leopards, saying this was killing vultures.

PHOTO | FILE Bird lovers have called on pastoralists in semi-arid and arid areas to stop putting pesticides on cattle carcasses to trap lions and leopards, saying this was killing vultures. NATION

NATION CORRESPONDENT
By NATION CORRESPONDENT
More by this Author

Bird lovers have called on pastoralists in semi-arid and arid areas to stop putting pesticides on cattle carcasses to trap lions and leopards, saying this was killing vultures.

The birds were susceptible to poisoning when ranchers put pesticides on carcasses of cattle and other animals killed by lions or hyenas, according to the Africa programmes director for the Peregrine Fund, Mr Munir Virani, in a campaign aimed at replenishing the vulture population across the country.

“You can imagine how difficult it is to save a species that spends a lot of time in areas that are completely unprotected,” Mr Virani said.

During research for the report Drought and Drowning Equal Vulture Supermarket, researchers attached GSM-GPS telemetry devices to three species of the bird in the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem. The devices sent text messages to the researchers giving information about the individual bird’s location and altitude.

The data showed that vultures focused on the immense wildebeest herds only during the dry season when hundreds of the animals died of starvation or drowned while trying to cross rivers.

“Our study shows that vultures seek areas where wildlife are most likely to die,” said the lead author, Dr Corinne Kendall, adding that “this shows that for vultures, prey mortality is more important than prey abundance.”

Advertisement

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

THREAT

Two species endangered

During the rainy season, vultures travel long distances in search of food all over Kenya and northern Tanzania.

But this long-distance search for food has exposed vultures to risks of death. This is particularly so for the white-backed and the Ruppell’s vultures, two of the species studied.

The two have been listed as endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to a dramatic decline in their populations throughout Africa.