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DEVASTATING POISONING EVENT OUTSIDE RUAHA NATIONAL PARK
Given the drastic decline in vulture populations across Africa, WCS has been running a vulture monitoring program in the Ruaha-Katavi landscape since 2013. The principal threat to vultures across the continent is poisoning in retaliation for carnivore predation of livestock – more often than not, caused by human and livestock encroachment into ancestral lion habitat.
Sadly, the disastrous impact of poisoning was demonstrated in MBOMIPA Wildlife Management Area outside Ruaha National Park last week, with an incident reported to WCS by the Ruaha Carnivore Project’s lion defenders. WCS, TANAPA and RCP staff went to the location along with the police and the District Game office.
6 lions and 72 vulture carcasses were found dead on site with evidence of one poisoned cow. The lions were females and adolescents and the vultures comprised 67 white-backed, 2 hooded, 1 Ruppell’s and 2 lappet-faced vultures. These first 3 species are IUCN red listed as critically endangered, and lappet-faced as endangered. 2 more hooded vultures were found dead 4 days later, 200 metres from the site. With even more animals (including lions) and birds likely to have ingested poison it is probable the total impact was much greater.
TANAPA and WCS took samples from carcasses to try and identify which poison was used and TANAPA have begun an investigation into this serious wildlife crime. Two suspects have been arrested by TANAPA. 4 vultures found still alive were taken for treatment at a TANAPA facility, of which one has died but the rest are recovering well. WCS will continue to work with partners and communities to tackle such devastating incidents and other wildlife crime