Africa-Press – Lesotho. Speaking at the International Vultures Awareness Day in Kachikau on Saturday, the Chobe District Council chairperson Mr Chimney Mululwani said the use of toxic chemicals in agriculture and illegal wildlife trade had wiped off vulture population at an alarming rate.
He said there was need to raise awareness on the dangers of vulture poisoning and its impact on the ecosystem. “We need to educate communities, farmers and policy makers about the devastating consequences of using toxic chemicals that harm not only vultures but the broader environment and human health,” he said.
This year’s theme, Toxic Ties: Let’s Unite Against Vulture Poisoning, challenges everyone to take action and protect vultures against any cruel act that may lead to vulture extinction, he said.
Mr Mululwani said that vultures played a critical role in the ecosystem by cleaning the environment and reducing the spread of diseases. “Their scavenging behavior helps maintain a delicate balance in the food chain, preventing the proliferation of harmful bacteria and viruses,” he said.
For his part, the acting Wildlife regional director, Mr Ernest Madimabe stated that vultures were protected species according to the Wildlife Conservation and National Parks Act, of which a person harming the species could face a criminal charge.
Mr Madimabe revealed that a total of 106 vultures were killed from August 2022 to January 2023 in Chobe District. He said the vulture demise was caused by poachers who deliberately poisoned the birds so that animal carcasses slaughtered by poachers were not identified by the birds.
Moreover, he said some farmers also poisoned the birds in an attempt to protect their livestock from carnivores. Mr Madimabe highlighted that vultures contributed to the ecosystem by feeding on rotten flesh that could be swept into the ecosystem like water and air system.
He said government was aware of the challenges emanating from human wildlife conflict hence compensation was paid when one faced a loss due to animal destructions. Mr Madimabe called on Batswana to be whistleblowers of any heinous acts intended to harm vultures.
Birdlife Botswana representative, Mr Batanani Shaka stated that Birdlife worked closely with Community Trusts to educate people on the dangers of harming endangered species and the importance of creating safe haven for those species.
He said vulture population was gradually decreasing due to acts committed by human beings, adding that it was imperative to unite against vulture poisoning.
Mr Shaka said Botswana had five breeds of vultures with their whereabouts and patterns monitored closely by Birdlife Botswana. Kgosi Mmualefhe Mmualefhe of Kachikau said vultures were faced extinction if people continued to kill them.
He said the day was important as it highlighted the importance of protecting vultures and raise awareness on the purpose of vultures in the ecosystem.