By Staff Reporter
South African National Parks reported an incident of suspected poisoning close to the fence in the Punda Maria Section of the Kruger National Park on 11 August.
‘Rangers on patrol discovered the carcass of a buffalo which appeared to have been laced with poison. They also found over a hundred dead vultures and a dead hyena likely to have fed off the carcass,’ SANParks said.
With the assistance of the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), 20 of the birds found next to the scene that were still alive were rushed to Shingwedzi and Mohololo Rehabilitation Centre for treatment. Yolan Friedman, CEO of the EWT expressed her concern that ‘given the critical status of vultures globally, poisonings at this scale places the species at increasing risk of extinction’.
The scene has been cordoned off for further investigation and the carcasses have been burned to ensure that there are no further poisonings. Initial indications are that some of the carcasses were harvested for their body parts. The matter has been referred to the SAPS for investigation.
Acting Chief Executive Officer of SANParks, Hapiloe Sello said: ‘This reprehensible act once again highlights the ever-present danger of poisoning by unscrupulous people. We cannot afford to let our guards down and we call on law enforcement agencies outside the Park to move swiftly to arrest the perpetrators’.
Vulpro, an organisation that works for the conservation of vultures said there was another poisoning in Chobe, Botswana recently too. ‘These killings were aimed at targeting vultures for muti. Their heads, feet and organs were removed. The repercussions of these poisonings are huge. It’s breeding season so their chicks will not survive and breeding pairs have been lost for good. Vulture populations cannot withstand these losses and the threat of extinction creeps ever closer.’