More vultures found poisoned in the Eastern Cape Yesterday.

MEDIA STATEMENT

FORTY SIX VULTURES POISONED IN THE EASTERN CAPE, SOUTH AFRICA

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Griffon Poison Information Centre Director: Dr Gerhard H Verdoorn

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Poisoning incidents like this are becoming a very common occurrence in South Africa, something must be done to bring this barbaric practice to an end.

The image above shows over 50 White-backed vultures poisoned in September. Image courtesy of Gonarezhou-Transfrontier Park. Read the full story here.

Yesterday Kate Webster, a farmer-conservationist from Queenstown found 46 poisoned Cape Griffon Vultures on a farm close to Molteno close to two sheep carcasses. The nature of this incident is still unknown but all indications point to carbofuran poisoning. 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 conservationist and was followed by an incident in Hluhluwe-Mfolozi Game Reserve in which 37 African White-backed Vultures were poisoned for traditional medicine. The spate of vulture poisoning incidents in southern Africa calls for very strong action from conservation agencies.

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All the images featured below courtesy of  Dr Gerhard H Verdoorn

Fortunately one of these vultures was fitted with a tracking device by Kerri Wolter of VULPRO in the NW Province earlier this year. This bird had visited most provinces before deciding to forage in the Eastern Cape. If it had not been for this bird, this poisoning incident might have gone unnoticed.
Vulture poisoning is becoming worse than during the 1970s and 1980s when such incidents were common environmental crimes. Good conservation work and lobbying brought vulture poisoning down to only a few incidents per year by the end of the previous millennium.

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What has changed in recent times is the total onslaught of poachers aiming for rhinos, elephants and probably also lions to fuel the trade in rhino horn, elephant ivory and lion bones. Vultures are deliberately poisoned after these animals have been poached to avoid carcasses being detected by game rangers. The increase in livestock predation also contributes to the misuse of agriculture remedies to poison predators that inadvertently leads to vulture poisoning.

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Conservation authorities are hampered by shortage of staff and sufficient resources to prevent poisoning. It is therefore the duty of every South African to combat pesticide misuse by advocating a zero tolerance to the deliberate poisoning of wildlife. The regulatory framework is geared to punish culprits who poison vultures and other wildlife severely. 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. We will offer all the support we can muster to conservation officials who investigate such crimes and we will support only the maximum penalties for such perpetrators. Earlier calls by the Centre for the expropriation of such convicted individual’s properties are reiterated – there is no place in modern society for such people.

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Poisoning wildlife does not solve any problem even if it is aimed at damage causing animals. The Griffon Poison Information Centre works closely with the National Predation Management Forum to devise strategies and protocols for effective and environmentally compatible predation management and there is no reason for any livestock owner to poison predators. Livestock owners can request the predation management document via nesher@tiscali.co.za.

As individuals who work in the agricultural arena, the Griffon Poison Information Centre and its associates find the poisoning actions of some individuals in agriculture despicable and unacceptable. It tarnishes the image of livestock owners who are generally in full support of vulture conservation. Any endeavour by livestock farmers to recolonize the Karoo with vultures is nullified by the villains who poison vultures. We will do our utmost to identify such individuals and assist the law enforcement agencies to have them punished under all the relevant legislation.

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 be means of poisoning wild animals. African folks who use traditional medicine in the form of vulture heads must understand that they are prone to poisoning and that they take their lives into their own hands. People who poison vultures for traditional medicine must also be shown the wrath of the law. No one who poisons vultures should go unscathed. Law enforcement agencies must do inspections at the so-called muti markets and clamp down on anyone in possession of any vulture parts without the required permits.

For more information please contact Dr Gerhard Verdoorn on 082-446-8946 or Kate Webster on 082-702-5942 or 045-839-4716.

The Griffon Poison Information Centre is a 24 hour emergency service offering advice and support on managing poisoning incidents, pesticide emergencies and pesticide related crimes. It collaborates with the agrochemical industry, national government departments, provincial conservation agencies, the NPA, organised agriculture, forensic analytical services and the South African Police Service to minimise pesticide related crime.

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