safari experts, since 1991
See how we earn 5 starsTrustpilot - 5 stars
×
SEARCH OUR STORIES
SEARCH OUR SAFARIS
Africa Geographic Travel

We were alerted to a vulture poisoning incident on a private farm near Hoedspruit late in the afternoon on 6 May 2015. After contacting the farm manager and obtaining initial information about the incident, we met with him first thing the next morning and assessed the scene, which was secured overnight to ensure that no further exposure to mammalian, vultures or other avian scavengers would occur. The farm is located on the confluence of the Blyde and Olifants rivers. Written by Andre Botha, Manager of the Endangered Wildlife Trust‘s Birds of Prey Programme and Co-chair for the IUCN SSC Vulture Specialist Group


 

vulture poisoning
© Andre Botha

A total of 65 vultures of various ages and a single adult tawny eagle were found dead at various locations on the scene. This included African white-backed (globally endangered), hooded (globally endangered) and Cape (globally vulnerable, regionally endangered, near-endemic) vultures. Many of the birds were adults of breeding age, which will have severe consequences and cause the loss or break-up of several breeding pairs at this early stage of the breeding season.

vultures poisoning
© Andre Botha

During our assessment of the scene, it was obvious that the poisoning was associated with substantial meat-poaching activities. The team recovered many wire snares and found what appeared to be a camp where poachers spent some time slaughtering a range of animals. Parts of carcasses that were not removed to be sold as meat were scattered on the scene. Based on the evidence, it seems that a zebra carcass was first laced with poison which killed a first batch of birds, and this was followed up a few days later by the remains of a kudu cow that was also poisoned and that killed the remainder of the birds. The latter carcass was also cut up, and parts of it were placed in the trees, apparently a deliberate attempt to poison avian rather mammalian scavengers.

poached kudu
© Andre Botha
poaching snares
© Andre Botha

We did find signs of mammalian scavenging on some of the older carcasses, so it is likely that jackals and/or hyenas could also have been poisoned. A report of a dying jackal showing classic poisoning symptoms was received from a neighbouring farm early on Friday.

vultures poisoned
© Andre Botha

Samples for toxicological and other analyses were collected from several carcasses. We believe a chemical with acute toxicity was used as many of the dead birds still had food in their mouths when they died. A carbamate-based chemical was likely used to kill the birds. These types of chemicals are widely used in agricultural practices. Despite the same substances being banned in the last year, substantial stockpiles of these are still in circulation and available for use.

vulture poisoned
© Andre Botha

The crime scene was properly cleaned up and sterilised to prevent further poisoning of birds and other wildlife. All remains of the killed birds, poisoned carcasses, and found baits were incinerated. The Limpopo Department of Environment and Tourism apparently visited the scene briefly on Wednesday afternoon, but it is unsure whether a formal investigation was launched or a docket opened in this regard.

burning vultures
© Andre Botha

LEARN MORE about vultures here.

To comment on this story: Login (or sign up) to our app here - it's a troll-free safe place 🙂.


HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF AFRICA GEOGRAPHIC:

  • Travel with us. Travel in Africa is about knowing when and where to go, and with whom. A few weeks too early / late and a few kilometres off course and you could miss the greatest show on Earth. And wouldn’t that be a pity? Browse our ready-made packages or answer a few questions to start planning your dream safari.
  • Subscribe to our FREE newsletter / download our FREE app to enjoy the following benefits.
  • Plan your safaris in remote parks protected by African Parks via our sister company https://ukuri.travel/ - safari camps for responsible travellers

AG Logo

Casino Siteleri is a non-governmental, non-profit, conservation organisation, founded in 1973. We aim to conserve threatened species and ecosystems in southern and east Africa to the benefit of all people. Help us deliver Conservation in Action by supporting the EWT.

Africa Geographic Travel
[wpforms id="152903"]
<div class="wpforms-container wpforms-container-full" id="wpforms-152903"><form id="wpforms-form-152903" class="wpforms-validate wpforms-form wpforms-ajax-form" data-formid="152903" method="post" enctype="multipart/form-data" action="/stories/65-endangered-vultures-killed-in-poisoning-incident/" data-token="4a85e44c6006c02a926e6ff7c76d176f"><noscript class="wpforms-error-noscript">Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.</noscript><div class="wpforms-field-container"><div id="wpforms-152903-field_1-container" class="wpforms-field wpforms-field-email" data-field-id="1"><label class="wpforms-field-label wpforms-label-hide" for="wpforms-152903-field_1">Email Address <span class="wpforms-required-label">*</span></label><input type="email" id="wpforms-152903-field_1" class="wpforms-field-medium wpforms-field-required" name="wpforms[fields][1]" placeholder="Email " required></div></div><div class="wpforms-submit-container"><input type="hidden" name="wpforms[id]" value="152903"><input type="hidden" name="wpforms[author]" value="273"><input type="hidden" name="wpforms[post_id]" value="45150"><button type="submit" name="wpforms[submit]" id="wpforms-submit-152903" class="wpforms-submit" data-alt-text="Sending..." data-submit-text="Subscribe" aria-live="assertive" value="wpforms-submit">Subscribe</button><img src="https://africageographic.com/wp-content/plugins/wpforms/assets/images/submit-spin.svg" class="wpforms-submit-spinner" style="display: none;" width="26" height="26" alt="Loading"></div></form></div> <!-- .wpforms-container -->