Witch doctors blamed for killing of 100 vultures found dead at safari park
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Featured Image Credit: SANParks
Witch doctors have been blamed for the death of more than 100 vultures at a South Africa safari park.
Rangers at Kruger National Park found the massacre near the park’s main gate on Thursday. It is believed they were butchered to be used in black magic potions.
While they managed to rescue 26 of the birds and rushed them to a nearby rehabilitation centre for emergency treatment, many more had sadly died.
Authorities believe that witch doctors had poisoned a buffalo to lure down the vultures in order to illegally harvest their heads, beaks and claws to use in their potions.
As the birds began to feast on the carcass it wasn’t long before the poison entered their bodies, causing them to collapse and die.
A lone hyena looking for food was also reportedly found dead among them.
Two similar poisonings occurred around the same time last year and an investigation is now underway to prevent this from happening again.
Speaking to eNCA, head ranger Cathy Dreyer said: “We definitely suspect this is a poisoning event.”
She added that the park ranger had stumbled across the buffalo which had been caught in a snare and then saw all the dead vultures around it.
She explained: “There were some tell tale signs that it is poisoning. We can’t confirm until all the tests have been conducted but we are almost certain that it was a poisoning incident.”
While the park has seen smaller incidents of poisoning throughout the year, during this incident, they had noticed some of the vultures' body parts had been harvested.
“We expect it has something to do with the medicinal medicine trade,” she added.
These traditional healers believe those that take their potions can get clairvoyant abilities. They also believe it can increase their intelligence and cure terminal illnesses.
Forensic samples were taken to assist in the police investigation. Some of the dead vultures were also taken to try and find out where the poison might have come from, while the rest were burned.
Dreyer went on to explain that the ecological impact of the situation is huge.
Vultures alongside other scavengers play an important part in our environment, especially as they can help to prevent the spread of disease by picking at carcasses.
All those targeted in the attack are also classed as endangered or critically endangered.
She added that as it is breeding season for many of the birds, there will now be hundreds of chicks left alone in their nests and they will likely die too.
The park is seeing an increase in wildlife related crimes involving poisonings, snares and hunting with dogs.
Acting Chief Inspector of SANParks Hapiloe Sello added: “This reprehensible act once again highlights the ever-present danger of poisoning of wildlife by unscrupulous people.
“Poisonings on this scale given the critical nature of vultures globally place this critically endangered species at increasing risk of extinction so we have to end it now.”
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