Friday, December 17, 2010

Poisoning pushes vulture decrease

Vulture populations in one of Africa's most significant wildlife reserves have declined by 60%, say scientists. important

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

The US-based Peregrine Fund says farmers occasionally lace the bodies of useless cattle or goats using a toxic pesticide called furadan.

This seems to become aimed at carnivores that destroy the livestock, but a single carcass can poison as much as one hundred fifty vultures.

Munir Virani, that is director of your Peregrine Fund's Africa programmes, has called for use of furadan to become banned inside area "to protect these keystone members of your scavenging community".

"People could think of vultures as unsightly and disgusting, however the birds are vital for the ecosystem," he says.

Their taste for carrion basically can make them the landscape's clean-up staff - ensuring the area is just not littered with bodies, assisting consist of the spread of disease and recycling vitamins.

The results of this most current survey of vultures are published inside journal Biological Conservation.

The horrible effects of a vulture population crash have by now been demonstrated during a situation that grew to become often known as the Asian vulture crisis.

Populations of Gyps vultures in particular, in South Asia, crashed by over 95% about just a few years inside 1990s, largely because farmers treated their cattle using the pain-killing drug diclofenac.

The pain-killer, it turned out, was deadly towards the vultures, which fed to the useless cattle.

As well as driving three species of vulture towards the brink of extinction, the crisis provided an enormous quantity of meals for wild dogs, which moved in to get the place of your birds.

This had the devastating side-effect of growing the spread of rabies. And Dr Virani is concerned that an identical predicament could happen in Kenya.

The solution in Africa even though, could be a lot more easy than in South Asia.

By boosting the public picture of vultures inside country, the Peregrine Fund hopes to quit folks from carrying out these "revenge poisoning attacks".

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

He and his colleagues then in comparison the outcomes of those surveys using the results of surveys completed inside 1980s. The comparison exposed a 60% decline in vultures.

Corinne Kendall's operate has taken this survey a action additional.

Ms Kendal is a researcher from Princeton College inside US, who has also been doing work using the Peregrine Fund - monitoring and monitoring the birds to investigate the extent of your poisoning.

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

"But we had 4 from 16 vultures killed inside initially 12 months and three of those have been confirmed instances of poisoning.

"From a sample of 16, it's tough to know how consultant which is, but it's incredibly worrying."

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