Another case of poisoned vultures in NE Namibia – this time Bwabwata

A widely publicised decision by a local gung ho NGO to desperately seek kodak moments of yet some more poisoned vultures in the Caprivi may confuse the international readership; this latest batch of vultures they seek, were poisoned en masse in Bwabwata several weeks ago – indeed,  some photos I got to see in the media yesterday suggest that the poisoned birds have already started to fossilise, given their state of decomposition in these photos!

See for example, the article in the Namibian.  And Dirk Heinrich’s article in the Algemeine Zeitung (it even has a pic of a tagged vulture – W 216 !)


(I’ve uploaded this recovery to the vulture re-sightings website)

Given my comprehensive understanding of vulture nestling food requirements – I published some stuff on this topic yonks ago – I would hazard an educated guess that any nestlings which lost parents in this horrific poisoning incident at that early stage of growth (in early/mid July) are DEAD!  

[breeding records for most vulture species known to breed in this region, suggest that they mostly lay eggs in May/June, have an average incubation period of 50 – 60 days, meaning that any nestings left to die would have been less that a few weeks old at most – downy, defenceless and unlikely to survive more than a few days without nourishment]

I would also suggest that the intention to stomp around the bush with ladders to climb onto vulture nests to recover decomposed nestlings at this early stage of development – in Angola, Zambia, Botswana and a narrow strip of Namibia given their probable foraging range – is completely delusional.   And it may do more harm than good to the very young vulture nestlings being reared normally – disturbing parents off nests puts these defenceless young nestlings at risk of predation, or bone-breaks when parents are flushed by disturbance. 

I suggest that the funds this gung ho NGO has managed to crowd-source for this hysterical little adventure are better spent on pulling together a group of concerned vulture conservationists along with Ministry of Environment, veterinary services, pesticide adminstrators in Agriculture and Health sectors from Namibia as well as Angola, Zambia and Botswana to do some meaningful stuff – also invite people like Pete Hancock and Andre Botha! Maybe have it hosted at one of Garth&Margie’s community centres in Caprivi or at the freshly inaugurated Bwabwata park offices, and invite a bunch of local decision makers as well.  And bring along some good media practitioners – not the hysterical anti-seal and anti-cuba brigade we’ve had to suffer of late.

This brings to mind one other small matter of relevance to this latest mass vulture-poisoning incident –  a document I stumbled across the other day – the proceedings of a technical workshop held in 2010, entitled “National Plan of Action for the Conservation of the Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres) in Namibia”  Excerpted, as follows, from the action plan:  
“End of each month, starting in February 2011, a short bullet point report should be submitted by each person named in the Action Plan on the specific actions for which they are responsible, and submitted via the web-based avian scavenger information system (all present named; C Brown & K /Uiseb to be whip masters).”   

The proceedings make good reading of all the concerns raised and actions planned by this group of concerned vulture conservationists.  Unfortunately I have not found any recent information on this national plan – which apparently holds this very diverse group to task.  

So, I ask, has anyone been whipped lately?  Or is this just another Namibian cocktail… 

Obbies mit eish, anyone? 

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Posted in #namibia, Andre Botha, Bwabwata, Caprivi, conservation, namringers, poisoning, rest, tourism, Ushahidi, vulture, vulturesresightings

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