Conservationists reported Friday that at least 150 extremely endangered vultures were poisoned to death in separate incidents in Botswana 🇧🇼 and South Africa 🇿🇦, warning that the deaths brought the birds closer to extinction. In the wildlife-rich region of southern Africa, vultures are frequently poisoned because they attract unwanted attention to poachers’ illegal activities.
Wildlife organizations claim that traditional medicine also uses their heads. According to vulture conservation Vulpro, the most recent events included the discovery of more than 50 dead white-backed vultures in Botswana’s northern Chobe sector on Friday and approximately 100 more on Thursday in South Africa’s KRUGER NATIONAL PARK.
In both cases, the birds died after feeding from the carcass of a buffalo, which appeared to have been laced with poison, said Vulpro’s founder Kerri Wolter.
Park officials in South Africa said they were investigating the incident, adding some of the carcasses appeared to have been harvested for their body parts.
The white-backed vulture is listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) “red list” of critically-endangered bird species. One of the largest vulture deaths recorded in recent years in Botswana was in 2019, when 537 carcasses were discovered in the CHOBE GAME RESERVE after they ate carcasses of three elephants killed by poachers.