Death of 2,000 rare vultures linked to rituals

BBC Monitoring

Hooded vultures wait for scraps of meat at Bissau's main slaughter house
Hooded vultures wait for scraps of meat at Bissau's main slaughter house

The deaths of more than 2,000 hooded vultures in Guinea-Bissau this year has been linked to superstitious rituals by a researcher.

Mohammed Henriques told the French public radio, RFI, that heads, legs and claws of the vultures are often used in the West African country for superstitious rituals.

He said many of the birds found dead from February were beheaded.

“The body parts of these birds are believed to bring good fortune and special powers,” RFI quoted Mr Henriques as saying.

Toxicology reports had indicated that the birds had been poisoned by methiocarb, a pesticide banned in Europe.

Since the initial death of hundreds of hooded vultures in February, there have been other reported fatalities of the scavengers in the Bafata and Gabu regions in eastern Guinea-Bissau and in the Bissagos archipelago, west of the country.

Guinea-Bissau is home to around 22% of the critically endangered hooded vultures, according to Birdlife International. [IUCN Red list gives global hooded vulture population as 197,000 and decreasing ]

Guinea-Bissau is home to around 22% of the critically endangered hooded vultures