A Hawk Conservancy Trust investigation has found ivory poachers are trying to hide from law enforcement agents by deliberately poisoning elephant carcasses to kill vultures.
Just one poisoned carcass can kill hundreds of scavenging animals, including lions, jackals, hyenas and vultures. Poisoning has contributed to declines of more than 80% over the last 30 years in many African vulture species and now four are listed as Critically Endangered and three as Endangered according to the IUCN Red List.
More than 2500 vultures have been killed by poisoning in southern Africa since 2011. Research by the Hawk Conservancy Trust has shown that this level of impact will lead to vulture populations becoming extinct within decades. With the loss of vultures Africa is losing the important and highly efficient ecosystem services they provide. Carcasses are left to rot and disease risk increases for both humans and wildlife.
A poisoned carcass discovered on 25 February 2018 in southern Mozambique had killed more than 100 Critically Endangered vultures. 18 were recovered still alive and are all undergoing treatment. The rapid action taken by the poison response team neutralised the poisoned carcass and prevented many of the hundreds of vultures seen in the area from a death by poisoning. Research led by the Hawk Conservancy Trust’s Head of Conservation and Research, Dr Campbell Murn, has demonstrated that a quick response by poison response teams will significantly reduce deaths and minimise the loss of wildlife and contamination of the environment.
Working in partnership, the Hawk Conservancy Trust, the Endangered Wildlife Trust and the University of Reading deliver a training programme on the effective neutralisation of poisoning events and also provide poison response kits to field personnel in southern Africa.
To find out more about the Poison Response Action Campaign visit www.hawkconservancy.org/prk
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