Spotlight on poisonings

An estimated 10 000 vultures have been poisoned across the region in the past five years, of which 6 000 were killed in Namibia and adjacent parts of Botswana.

24 July 2019 | Tourism

A brief reprieve from a deadly poison-laced assault on scavengers and predators by small-stock farmers in Namibia and the rest of southern Africa over the past few decades has given way to a renewed and catastrophic attack by commercial poachers.

An estimated 10 000 vultures have been poisoned across the region in the past five years, of which 6 000 were killed in Namibia and adjacent parts of Botswana, as a result of poachers poisoning elephant carcasses they had illegally killed for ivory.

In June alone, more than 700 vultures of five species, in addition to other wildlife, were killed by poison in five southern and east African countries. As a result the Namibian Chamber of Environment (NCE) this month joined several local and regional organisations to submit an urgent plea to the African Union (AU), urging for cross-border efforts to address the threat. “It cannot effectively be addressed by a single nation. A continent-wide initiative is needed,” NCE CEO Chris Brown informed members this week.

The submission, addressed to AU chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, calls on the AU secretary-general and member stakes to undertake several urgent steps and collaborate among each other to tackle the crisis head-on.

The signatories to the letter, including the IUCN SSC Vulture Specialist Group, Birdlife International, the Zambia Lion Project, Birdlife Botswana, Aplori Nigeria, and many others, also warn that vultures are not the only wildlife species threatened by the use of poison.

Nevertheless, of the five vulture species most impacted, three of them are currently listed as critically endangered, while the remaining two are listed as endangered.

The AU submission explains poison is also used to respond to human-wildlife conflict, but that the masking of commercial poaching activities currently “poses the largest and most immediate threat to vultures”.

The experts warn that populations of these slow-breeding species, which are also subject to a range of other threats, “cannot sustain losses of this scale and thus face a significant threat of extinction”.



Relentless threats

“Wildlife poisoning has long been the major cause of mortality for many species of scavengers and predators, perhaps best-documented in vultures and eagles,” Brown underlined.

However, previously the main source of poisoning stemmed from mainly small-stock farmers who “waged an ongoing battle against predators such as jackal, caracal, leopard and hyena”.

Studies showed that for every member of a target species killed by a farmer's poison - not necessarily the individual animal that was guilty of a killing, just a member of the species - over 100 non-target animals were killed in Namibia, mainly eagles and vultures, but also many other species, including bat-eared foxes, Cape foxes, aardwolf and mongooses.

“In fact, anything that eats meat,” the NCE said.

Brown said this “scorched earth approach to farming”, which was allowed to continue for decades, had a deadly impact on many species and particularly on the distribution of vulture species.

With the decline in small-stock farming in many parts of Namibia in recent years, and the conversion of land uses to wildlife and tourism, a hopeful, but “slow modest increase in vulture numbers” was observed.

This slight gain, however, has in recent years been pushed back again with the increased poisoning of carcasses by poachers.

“This is an Africa-wide crisis, but with the main impacts in southern and east Africa, which have the most remaining wildlife areas,” the NCE warned. Brown stressed that it is time African countries to pay attention to this issue and work together to address the problem.

“Commercial poaching is a cross-boundary and internationally-driven crime, often linked to other syndicate crimes such as drugs, arms, human trafficking and money laundering.”

JANA-MARI SMITH

Similar News

 

Hopes for speedy tourism recovery dashed

1 week ago - 26 July 2021 | Tourism

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKHopes for the tourism industry to have a speedy recovery and a high season that would have started this month have been dashed by...

First woman chairperson for Han

2 weeks ago - 16 July 2021 | Tourism

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKThe Hospitality Association of Namibia (Han) has for the first time in its 34 years of existence elected a woman as its chairperson.Janet Wilson-Moore,...

First woman chairperson for Han

3 weeks ago - 15 July 2021 | Tourism

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKThe Hospitality Association of Namibia (Han) has for the first time in its 34 years of existence elected a woman as its chairperson.Janet Wilson-Moore,...

Namibia faces worst travel risk status

3 weeks ago - 12 July 2021 | Tourism

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKCurrently Namibia finds itself in the worst risk status as a travel destination, highest risk with variant status, having caused severe travel warnings and...

Namibia is losing passport power

3 weeks ago - 09 July 2021 | Tourism

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKHenley and Partners has just published its latest passport index, outlining the countries that Namibians can travel to without visas right now and how...

Allegations threaten to fracture fragile tourism industry

4 weeks ago - 08 July 2021 | Tourism

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKNamibian tourism organisations say a new player in the industry is stoking disunity within the sector with false and misleading allegations.Nrupesh Soni’s Namibia Travel...

Tourism products should focus on Covid-19 confinement syndrome

4 weeks ago - 07 July 2021 | Tourism

ELLANIE SMIT WINDHOEKThe tourism industry should develop and offer affordable pricing options to tourists aimed at attracting families or individuals away from...

Tourism industry on pins and needles

1 month - 02 July 2021 | Tourism

ELLANIE SMIT WINDHOEKNamibia has suffered millions in losses since June due to tourist cancellations,...

199 submissions for NWR social media influencer programme

1 month - 02 July 2021 | Tourism

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKNamibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) received 199 submissions for its first-ever social media influencer programme, which will take place from 1 July to 31 October.Each...

Tourism blacklisting detrimental to NAC

1 month - 28 June 2021 | Tourism

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEKThe blacklisting of Namibia as a tourism destination by the US Centres for Disease Control and the Robert Koch Institute is bound to have...

Latest News

LPM changes tone on judiciary...

10 hours ago | Justice

JEMIMA BEUKES WINDHOEKThe Landless People’s Movement (LPM) has lauded the country’s judiciary - which it has so often accused of being captured...

Vaccinated northern chiefs urge subjects...

10 hours ago | Health

TUYEIMO HAIDULA OSHAKATI Communities often look to traditional and religious leaders for advice on how to live. In northern Namibia, these...

South Africa's farmers cash in...

10 hours ago | Business

SAAWMIET MOOS AND RODGER BOSCHOnly shrubs grew naturally in the sandy acid soil that farmer Volker Miros chose as a site to test the potential...

Carlsberg partner urges better governance...

10 hours ago | Business

ADITYA KALRACarlsberg's warring partner in its India joint venture urged the Denmark-based brewer to boost governance standards, saying it has had "grave concerns" for years...

Ivory Coast to build 200...

10 hours ago | Economics

Ivory Coast is in talks to build a 200-megawatt power plant fuelled by liquefied natural gas (LNG) as it seeks to avoid outages that rocked...

EDITORIAL: Happy 80th birthday, Mr...

10 hours ago | Opinion

Today we pause to wish, though belatedly, President Hage Geingob a revolutionary and happy birthday.On the day he turned 80, the usual pomp and fanfare...

DRC fire victims get new...

10 hours ago | Accidents

Adolf Kaure SWAKOPMUNDHome affairs minister Albert Kawana recently handed over 33 identity documents (IDs)...

IMF approves increased lending capacity

10 hours ago | Economics

The board of governors of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Monday greenlit increasing the institution's lending capacity by US$650 billion, the last step in...

Rwanda raises millions through a...

10 hours ago | Economics

Rwanda raised US$620 million through a 10-year Eurobond, the finance ministry said late on Monday, part of which will go towards retiring an outstanding dollar...

Load More