By Staff Reporter
Vultures are under siege in Zimbabwe as poachers are killing elephants using poisons which are also killing vultures which fed on the poisoned carcasses.
Speaking at the Vultures Awareness and Exploring Practical Ways and Alternatives to reduce the promotion of and use of of vultures parts in belief practices, Traditional Medical Practioners Council (TMPC), and Johanne Masowe we Chishanu Apostolic member, Albert Chikari said the use of vulture body parts for traditional medicine is responsible for the bird going extinct in Africa.
Chikari added that if urgent steps should be taken by the government to address the indiscriminate hunting of vultures, the birds will soon go into extinction.
Chikari highlighted that the rising demand for vultures for local herbs and rituals had made the birds one of the most endangered animals in Africa, particularly in Zimbabwe.
He said unless the government can control poaching and poisoning, the future looks grim for Zimbabwe’s vultures.
Chikari added that the important role vultures play in the environment, while describing the birds as “nature’s sanitary workers who keep the earth clean by feeding on decaying carcasses of animals thereby preventing the spread of communicable diseases.
“There is urgent need for government to strengthen the wildlife life protection law by proposing stiffer punishments for violators of the law.
“The wildlife is being destroyed everyday by the activities of wild animals poachers and those involved in illegal tree felling thereby exposing our environment to grave dangers,” Chikari added.
Chikari blasted some traditional healers, Apostolic Sect organisations and communities surrounding national parks, that there is myths and. misconceptions about vultures are common.
He added that some people associate the birds with good luck while others link them to witchcraft. Some note that vultures indicate the presence of a dead animal, a fact that has led poachers to target the birds directly to avoid detection.
In the workshop it was noted that a major reason for vultures being endangered is that their food supply is under threat, for example, if they consume the carcass of an animal treated with a commonly used veterinary drug, they die, and the supplementary feeding programme provides them with a safe food source.
A major reason for vultures being endangered is that their food supply is under threat, for example, if they consume the carcass of an animal treated with a commonly used veterinary drug, they die, and the supplementary feeding programme provides them with a safe food source.
Acting Registry of traditional medical practioners Council of Zimbabwe, Givemore Kanda said the workshop we did today both Traditional healers and the apostolic members denied that they use vultures in their practices so we need to speak the same language when it comes to vulture conservation and work in unity.
Kanda highlighted that vultures are nature’s most successful scavengers, and they provide an array of ecological, economic, and cultural services.
” We urge members of the both sects to desist from poaching vultures and these species are protected and killing one could result in jail.
” Remember those who are using vultures for rituals purposes are not coming for registration and they fear. We heard they are selling these vultures heads in Mbare and our constitution chapter 27, 14 is very clear on faith based doing wrong practises should be arrested”, Kanda explained.
Kanda said the fine pegged at usd $400-00 or spending two years in jail.
Presently, 14 of 23 (61%) vulture species worldwide are threatened with extinction, and the most rapid declines have occurred in the vulture-rich regions of Asia and Africa. The reasons for the population declines are varied, but poisoning or human persecution, or both, feature in the list of nearly every declining species.