Poachers, farmers threaten vultures

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MMADINARE: The number of vultures in Botswana is declining, the director of Birdlife Botswana, Kabelo Senyatso, said at the commemoration of World Wildlife Day in Mmadinare on Thursday.

Senyatso said the survival of vultures should be addressed urgently. He said poachers lace carcasses eaten by vultures to kill the birds because law enforcement officers use the sight of circling vultures as an indication that an animal has been killed by poachers.

Farmers also lace carcasses to kill vultures so that they deter wild predators like lions and hyenas that hunt livestock.

Although he did not provide numbers, Senyatso said there was evidence that vultures were being killed in large numbers.

“If they become extinct, the environment would be full of dead animals that would be hazardous to our lives,” he said. “Vultures help to dispose off dead animals.”

Senyatso urged farmers to seek assistance from the farmers associations, wildlife department and other social groups on ways of protecting their animals from wild animals, instead of resorting to illegal ways as mitigating factors.

He warned that action would be taken against people who kill vultures. Botswana is not the only SADC country battling to preserve vultures. More than a year ago poachers in Namibia killed 600 vultures in one incident and this raised an uproar from animal rights groups.

Mmadinare MP Kefentse Mzwinila said it was important to conserve all species of wildlife not only those perceived to be of greater value such as elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards, cheetahs and wild dogs.

He expressed concern about the problems brought by poachers but said law enforcement was doing its best to address the problems. “Government constantly reviews its strategies in order to effectively deal with poachers,” he said.

In another matter, Senyatso said birds tourism had the potential to help diversify Botswana’s diamond-backed economy.

“Botswana is not making more money through birds’ tourism because people don’t know and acknowledge its importance,” he said. “Botswana has many birds species that can attract tourists.” Senyatso called on Batswana to help protect birds so that they to do not become extinct.

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