Tag Archives: poison

Keeping the savannah clean- but they’ve only 100 years left on this planet

bee-elle-6049Botfly larvae, rotting skin, anthrax and rabies- you name it. They will clean it all up. If it weren’t for them, the savannah would be ridden by all sorts of bacteria and disease. But we might lose them all in under 100 years.

The largest vulture in Africa is the Lappet-faced, pictured here. They will aggressively swoop, pounce and caw at anyone getting in their way- including hyena and jackals- of a tasty meal of rotting flesh. Anyone except for humans, who are, ironically, the very reason why they are on the verge of extinction.

Vultures are reportedly the most threatened bird group in the world. About 2/3 of deaths of vultures are by poisoning by pastoralists protecting their livestock, and ivory poachers who don’t want vultures circling above their activities, which will give away their location. About 1/3 are killed for traditional medicine, which some locals believe can provide man with Superman powers. The remaining deaths are caused by them flying into power lines and wind turbines.

Back to the main reason for their deaths. A cheap, generic brand of Furadan, a pesticide, is being used by pastoralists to lace carcasses to lure in the lions to protect their livestock. Lions eat the poison, lions die, vultures eat the lion, vultures die.

A cow can fetch up to US$30- an understandably prized and necessary asset for pastoralists. But if proper management plans are not implemented immediately to address these issues, this will spell the end of vultures within the next century. If that happens, anarchy will ensue: ecosystems will be ridden with disease, the balance will be upset, and many other creatures will be killed in its wake.

Measures must be ramped up and implemented now to ensure humans can live peacefully and sustainably alongside wildlife. For this much is clear: Africa cannot live without vultures.


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When the lion is not at the top of the food chain

This may look like an idyllic scene, however it shows one of the symptoms of a greater problem that leads to many lion deaths. It’s when lions and livestock compete for space.

The Maasai will oftentimes lead their cattle, goats and sheep into the Maasai Mara reserve to graze due to expanding settlements and fewer pastures for their livestock to feed on. What we see here is a struggle to maintain rural livelihoods and the issue of habitat loss due to overgrazing- which then leads to lions wandering out to the villages and eating livestock. This sparks retaliatory attacks by the Maasai, and the lions are usually killed by poison. This is what happened last December to the Marsh Pride lions, the stars of the Big Cat Diaries.

Lion-proof bomas, controlled grazing zones, greater regulation, and more incentives for the Maasai to live peacefully around lions can help to ensure that everyone’s livelihoods are maintained while lions are not unnecessarily killed. Efforts are underway, yet illegal grazing is still a common sight- and if it is, then it’s a sign that things aren’t working as well as they should.


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