Cape Vultures

Posted by Doug Morton on Saturday, 27 July 2013

This morning newspapers carried the story of the discovery of the carcasses of forty eight Cape Griffons (Vultures) in the Swartberg region between Underberg and Kokstad in Southern Kwazulu-Natal. The birds had died from poisoning after feeding on poisoned sheep carcass bait, probably set for jackals and caracals.  Although forty eight dead birds were found, there's no telling how many other birds might have gone off and died somewhere else, never to be found or counted, or how many nestlings and chicks will now die in the absence of parent birds.

Everything about the event is so wrong, even the ostensible reason for putting out poisoned sheep carcasses.  Jackals and Caracals preying on sheep are an occupational hazard for a farmer, just as those of us who live in cities pay our daily dues breathing smog and dodging minibus taxis.  The difference is that we don't retaliate by destroying conservation efforts that seek to defend already protected and severely threatened species.  I and many others have spent many hours observing the gradually disappearing vultures, and have been enriched by being party to their majesty, and want only to ensure that my grandchildren might one day stand in awe of these birds as I've so often been privileged to do.  Then add to that the natural role that vultures play in our environment, cleaning up what's left after predators of all types, human, animal or disease, have had their way.  Loss of this function will impact on conservation and nature.

I've previously argued against the publication of shock images, but this time I feel it's justified.  Every possible effort must be made to support the authorities and make certain the culprit is charged and convicted, and then suitably punished.  The identity of the farm owner has been included in this morning's article in The Witness.  Take a look.  This must not be tolerated or allowed to fade away.

From this....   

to this.....

Are we desensitised sufficiently to do nothing?


I hope the evidence is enough to nail the guy big time, Doug.

By: Steve Woodhall on July 27, 2013

There is such a huge need for education in the field of conservation to stop ignoramousses/idiots like this farmer. Hope they can make a charge against him. There needs to be some examples set

By: Don Mchardy on July 27, 2013

In this day and age, all farmers are surely aware of the damage that can be caused by irresponsible actions as perpetrated by this farmer. He obviously couldn't care and thus should be severely dealt with and made an example of for all to note. Thank you, Doug, for this blog!

By: Bob Morton on July 28, 2013

Such a shame when some are trying so hard to conserve them and then this happens. One has to wonder.... how can the farmer be so ignorant in this day and age ???

By: Kim Bouchier on July 29, 2013

That desensitisation you mention is a terrible thing. It can creep up on people without them realising it is happening. Well done for being part of raising awareness. May the efforts of all involved bear positive fruit.

By: Deb Williams on August 1, 2013

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