Vultures nearing extinction in Africa

Vultures nearing extinction in Africa

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Africa’s vultures are vanishing, according to a new report, posing a potential health risk to humans and livestock, since populations of other scavengers such as rats and jackals could rise as a result.

The assessment, carried out by the conservation group BirdLife International, found that six of Africa’s 11 vulture species were at risk of . Deliberate targeting by is one of the reasons, as the birds, which circle the sites where they feed, can alert authorities to the carcasses of illegally killed animals.

A in South Africa. The birds are targeted by poachers as they can alert authorities to the carcasses of illegally killed animals. Photograph: Mujahid Safodien/AFP/Getty Images

Africa’s elephant and rhino populations are being poached for their ivory and horns to meet high demand in Asian economies.

Ross Wanless of BirdLife South Africa said: “Vultures are important. They come in, they clean up and they leave. Other scavengers like rats and jackals will eat a carcass and then will go after livestock or become a pest to humans. And if vultures are removed, their numbers can increase.“

Vultures also help stem the spread of disease on the world’s poorest continent by eating carcasses that would otherwise rot.

Other reasons behind the decline of the big birds include indiscriminate poisonings and the popularity of vulture parts for traditional medicine.

Since the late 1980s, 98% of west Africa’s vultures outside protected nature areas have disappeared, while half the population of the Gyps vulture species in Kenya’s Maasai Mara park have gone, the report said. In South Africa, the number of Cape vultures has declined by 60-70% over the past 20-30 years.

The assessment was conducted for the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of , which is considered to be the most authoritative estimate of wild bird and animal populations.

This article was first published by The Guardian on 29 Oct 2015.


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Karen Lyons Kalmenson


to the vulture a
terrible fate has
been assigned.
this magnificent bird
misunderstood and
this carrion eater
has a huge job
to do,
cleaning up after
all the mes and the
but man has the most
ignoble distinction
of almost poisoning
this great bird
into extinction.
in this"master plan"
he has allowed disease
to flourish and spread.
when vultures could
be tidying up this
soup instead.
so please everybody
before it is too late,
stand up for these
beautiful birds…
and advocate!

Cecile Lemay

All life becomes extinct, humans are next. That is just proven fact. Wish those wiping out all life would come to this realization life the rest of us.

Grace Neff

If we don't find a better way of controlling poachers it's a death knoll for some of our iconic animals.

Arlene Labbe

They are a necessity. They keep the planet clean.