Eleven animals and birds have been poisoned in the Castro Verde ecological protection zone in the lower Alentejo, Portugal.
Among the birds found dead were endangered species including a rare Iberian imperial eagle and several Kites.
According to the League for the Protection of Nature, “the first animal detected, a kingfisher, was alive when found by our staff but showed symptoms of acute poisoning which included vomiting, muscle spasms, and other signs of distress. The animal was taken to the wildlife recovery center in Olhão where it is still in recovery.”
Due to the seriousness of the poisoning and the rarity of the birds discovered, the GNR was alerted and officers searched for further victims of the poisoning.
“On that same day, the corpses of five kites and an Imperial Iberian eagle, both endangered species in Portugal, were found with strong indications that they had been poisoned. The search continued and a fox and three more kites were found, making a total of eleven poisoned animals associated with this occurrence. Everything seems to have a common origin.”
The GNR has collected all the corpses, as well as other on-the-spot evidence, and everything has been forwarded for forensic analysis which, according to the LPN “will soon enable confirmation of the cause of death, identification of the substance used and the author of this crime.”
For environmentalists, “this new episode of widespread poisoning, the largest identified so far in the Castro Verde Special Protection Zone, is not an isolated case, there being too long a history of poisoning events in recent years.”
“In 2016, this already is the fourth death of an Iberian Imperial eagle in the lower Alentejo where the evidence shows death by poisoning, a real risk for the conservation of this and other species which feed of carrion,” says Rita Alcazar of the League.
The coordinator of the League in Castro Verde said that that the “illegal use of poison is a very harmful practice for nature but it also can affect humans and domestic animals in a very serious way. There is a high risk to public health either through introduction into the human food chain through the consumption of contaminated animals (e.g. rabbits and hares) or through direct contact.”
The LPN has called for “action from the Ministry of the Environment urgently to make efforts in a structured and shared programme to combat this serious threat to nature conservation.”
This story was first published by the Algarve Daily News