Friday, December 17, 2010

Poisoning moves vulture decline in Masai Mara, Kenya

Vulture populations in a single of Africa's most crucial wildlife reserves have declined by 60%, say scientists. home

The researchers advise that the decline of vultures in Kenya's Masai Mara is being pushed by poisoning.

The US-based Peregrine Fund says farmers occasionally lace the bodies of lifeless cattle or goats with a poisonous pesticide called furadan.

This appears to be aimed at carnivores that destroy the livestock, but one particular carcass can poison up to 150 vultures.

Munir Virani, who's director in the Peregrine Fund's Africa programmes, has called for use of furadan to be banned within the area "to preserve these keystone members in the scavenging community".

"People may well think about vultures as unsightly and disgusting, but the birds are crucial for your ecosystem," he says.

Their taste for carrion basically makes them the landscape's clean-up crew - making certain the area is not littered with bodies, helping contain the spread of illness and recycling vitamins.

The results of this most up-to-date survey of vultures are published within the journal Biological Conservation.

The terrible penalties of a vulture population crash have already been demonstrated all through a case that grew to become generally known as the Asian vulture crisis.

Populations of Gyps vultures in particular, in South Asia, crashed by more than 95% about just a couple years within the 1990s, principally mainly because farmers handled their cattle using the pain-killing drug diclofenac.

The pain-killer, it turned out, was deadly to your vultures, which fed around the lifeless cattle.

Too as driving three species of vulture to your brink of extinction, the crisis furnished an enormous level of food for wild dogs, which moved in to get the put in the birds.

This had the devastating side-effect of raising the spread of rabies. And Dr Virani is involved that an identical scenario could occur in Kenya.

The option in Africa though, may very well be considerably more simple than in South Asia.

By boosting the general public image of vultures within the country, the Peregrine Fund hopes to discontinue people today from carrying out these "revenge poisoning attacks".

Between 2003 and 2005, Dr Virani and his colleagues drove across the expansive Kenyan landscapes, counting vultures.

He and his colleagues then compared the outcomes of those surveys using the success of surveys completed within the 1980s. The comparison uncovered a 60% decline in vultures.

Corinne Kendall's perform has taken this survey a step additional.

Ms Kendal can be a researcher from Princeton University within the US, who has also been operating using the Peregrine Fund - tracking and monitoring the birds to research the extent in the poisoning.

"We attached the GPS trackers like little backpacks," she tells BBC Information. "There's a piece that sits on their chest and two loops close to each wing."

"But we had 4 out of sixteen vultures killed within the initially yr and three of people were confirmed instances of poisoning.

"From a sample of sixteen, it's difficult to find out how consultant that may be, but it's very worrying."

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