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Africa vulture declines linked with elephant poaching for Ivory: new paper

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A new paper published today in the conservation journal Oryx raises the alarm about the link between the increasing use of poisons in elephant poaching and the devastating effects on Africa’s endangered vultures.

The study reveals that since 2012 ivory poachers have increasingly used poisons to kill elephants or to contaminate their carcasses specifically to eliminate vultures, whose overhead circling might otherwise reveal the poachers’ presence.   This newest threat currently represents the biggest cause of vulture mortality – it was virtually unknown only 5 years ago. The first known report of rhinoceros poisoning in South Africa was in 2005, and the intensive and widely reported use of poisons to kill elephants elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa began in 2012. The authors uncovered evidence of 11 incidents between 2012 and 2014 in which 155 elephants and 2,044 vultures were killed.

In October this year four species of African vultures were up-listed to Critically Endangered, and two species were up-listed to Endangered on the IUCN Red List,

At the base of this practice are weak regulations and enforcement regarding the accessibility and misuse of toxic pesticides and other poisons. Lots of chemicals are readily available and accessible to individuals with the intention to poison wildlife. Off-label use of substances such as carbofuran and aldicarb is common practice, and very little is done by authorities to monitor and enforce regulations and legislation.

The VCF and other conservation organisations alert authorities and stakeholders for this crisis, and exhort all to work together to revert this deplorable situation.

You can see a joint press-release below.

The full article is free to view for three weeks at:


Photo E. Sayer

Download Press release Ivory poaching, poisoning and vulture decline Ivory poachers decimating vultures press Adobe Acrobat Document 164.9 KB Download

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