According to a recent report by the international organisation BirdLife, the vultures in various parts of Africa are facing serious threat from the poachers. The poachers are believed to be killing thousands of birds illegally every month by using a widely available poison called Carbofuran or Furadan.
Carbofuran is designed to control insect pests in a wide variety of field crops such as potatoes, corn and soybeans. However, Carbofuran is also toxic to animals, and has one of the highest acute toxicities to humans of any insecticide widely used on field crops.
The report informs that in western Kenya near Lake Victoria and the Ugandan border, the Bunyala Rice Scheme is a heavily irrigated area which provides ideal growing conditions for rice. This water-logging also creates suitable feeding habitat for both non-breeding migratory and resident birds, which are being targeted by local people who view the meat as a delicacy.
In Bunyala the widely available poison is placed inside snail shells to present an attractive bait. Decoy birds are used, and poachers disturb the surroundings to encourage wild birds to settle into the baited areas. Once captured, target birds are killed and sold for human consumption.
Throughout Eastern and Southern Africa there are increasing reports of the use of Carbofuran to illegally poison wildlife. In Botswana, poachers have recently been found lacing their giraffe carcasses with the poison to attract vultures and kill them. "It appears as though the poachers are deliberately aiming to eliminate every vulture in the area, since the birds are quickly alerting the authorities to the occurrence of their poaching activities", said Pete Hancock - BirdLife Botswana's (BirdLife Partner) Conservation Officer.
The BirdLife Africa Partnership and many other conservation organisations across Africa are already working to address the problems caused by avian poisoning, and have demanded increased concerted efforts to deal with the rapidly intensifying problem".