African Reserves

NGO seeks to tackle mass poisoning of vultures

A leading African conservation organization is exploring ways to use technology to curb the poisoning of vultures in Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe and Limpopo National Park in Mozambique.

The two hunting reserves would be the most affected by the poisoning of the vultures.

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), which is dedicated to the conservation of threatened species and ecosystems in southern and eastern Africa, said it would use vultures as their “eye in the sky” to alert about wildlife incidents. poisoning.

The data would be transmitted by GPS-tracked vultures and sent to monitors, enabling faster response to life-threatening incidents.

“The problem is exacerbated by the poisoning of vultures as sentinel species in association with the ivory trade and other poaching practices, as well as the targeting of these birds for trade for belief purposes. in their body parts,” said Andre Botha, Vultures for Africa. program manager at EWT.

“Vultures are targeted because their visible presence with large numbers of people descending from the sky and roosting nearby or feeding on poached wildlife alerts law enforcement personnel to poaching or poisoning.

“Their remarkable sentinel function has led to widespread persecution of vultures across the continent.”

Gareth Tate, Birds of Prey program manager at EWT, said the technology will enable a faster response to poisoning incidents.

“Essentially, when a vulture is killed at a poisoning scene, the immobility triggers an alert within minutes of death, allowing us to identify sites where vultures died and quickly respond and decontaminate the scenes to prevent further loss of vultures and other animals otherwise it would go undetected or be detected too late,” Tate said.

“It’s sad that vultures have to die to detect some of these events, but by sending us an early warning signal, they are saving the lives of countless other wild animals and allowing us to save animals that have survived these events. of poisoning.”

Deborah Kahatano, chief of party for USAID’s VukaNow activity, which supports EWT innovation, said one of their main goals is to increase the application of tools, technologies and approaches. that mitigate wildlife crime, while working closely with communities to address these issues.

“The vision of this work is to expand the network of GPS-tracked vultures through poisoning hotspots across Africa and incorporate multiple partners and landscapes to adopt the Eye in the Poisoning Detection System. Sky, while continuing to focus on additional proactive conservation measures to address the major indiscriminate threat of poisoning,” Kahatano said.

“This includes conducting community work and targeted workshops with traditional medicine practitioners to raise awareness of the use of poisons to harvest vulture body parts and its risks to human health, and to facilitate improved judicial and law enforcement response, leading to more arrests.”

The first Saturday in September marks International Vulture Awareness Day, which aims to highlight the conservation of vultures that face a range of threats.

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