Friday, December 17, 2010

Poisoning drives vulture decrease in Masai Mara, Kenya

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

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

The US-based Peregrine Fund says farmers occasionally lace the bodies of lifeless cattle or goats having a poisonous pesticide known as furadan.

This appears to be aimed at carnivores that destroy the livestock, but a single carcass can poison up to one hundred fifty vultures.

Munir Virani, who is director of your Peregrine Fund's Africa programmes, has known as for use of furadan to be banned within the area "to protect these keystone members of your scavenging community".

"People might think about vultures as ugly and disgusting, however the birds are vital for that ecosystem," he says.

Their style for carrion in fact tends to make them the landscape's clean-up crew - guaranteeing the area just isn't littered with bodies, helping incorporate the spread of disease and recycling vitamins.

The results of this latest survey of vultures are revealed within the journal Biological Conservation.

The terrible effects of a vulture population crash have by now been demonstrated throughout a situation that grew to become generally known as the Asian vulture crisis.

Populations of Gyps vultures specifically, in South Asia, crashed by greater than 95% about just some years within the 1990s, largely since farmers treated their cattle with the pain-killing drug diclofenac.

The pain-killer, it turned out, was deadly to your vultures, which fed for the lifeless cattle.

At the same time as driving three species of vulture to your brink of extinction, the crisis offered a huge level of food for wild dogs, which moved in to get the location of your birds.

This had the devastating side-effect of rising the spread of rabies. And Dr Virani is concerned that a similar circumstance could transpire in Kenya.

The option in Africa though, could possibly be way more easy than in South Asia.

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

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 these surveys with the outcomes of surveys carried out within the 1980s. The comparison exposed a 60% decline in vultures.

Corinne Kendall's do the job has taken this survey a action more.

Ms Kendal is a researcher from Princeton University within the US, who has also been working with the Peregrine Fund - tracking and monitoring the birds to investigate the extent of your poisoning.

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

"But we had 4 from 16 vultures killed within the very first year and three of these had been confirmed circumstances of poisoning.

"From a sample of 16, it really is difficult to understand how representative that may be, but it really is particularly worrying."

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