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White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) | Coastweek

White-backed vultures (Gyps africanus) feed on a carcass of a wildebeest in Masai Mara National Park. White-backed vulture (Gyps africanus) adult landing composite. WIKIPEDIA PHOTOS - MAGNUS KJAERGAARD and CHARLES J SHARP

Kenyan conservationists sounding alarm
over poisoning of endangered vultures

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The survival of iconic vultures that roam the vast plains of southern Kenya is at stake due to retaliatory poisoning of wildlife and livestock carcasses by herders, conservationists said on Wednesday.

According to conservationists, poisoning of vultures has spiked at the world-famous Maasai Mara Wildlife Reserve as herders avenge death of their livestock after an attack by carnivores.

"The existence of vultures is crucial to society because they are productive and provide countless environmental services to humanity and biodiversity.

"Their survival is not just protected by Kenya’s obligations under international law, but also under Kenya’s vision 2030 commitments," said the conservationists.

They spoke in the wake of the death of 20 critically endangered vultures on January 27 after they fed on a poisoned hyena on the periphery of Maasai Mara National Reserve.

Paul Matiku, executive director of Nature Kenya said the latest death of vultures was a wakeup call for conservation lobbies to promote training of first responders like rangers and communities on decontamination and safe disposal of poisoned carcasses.

"We need to establish a strong response team that is committed to ensure that vulture mortalities arising from poisoning are at a bare minimum," said Matiku.

Nature Kenya and partners have since 2016 stepped up efforts to stamp out the scourge of poisoning that is to blame for a declining population of vultures and scavengers within the Mara wildlife habitat.

The interventions to eradicate retaliatory poisoning of vultures by aggrieved herders include training first responders on how to decontaminate poisoned carcasses, research and community awareness.

Such efforts have led to a 50 percent decline in the death of vultures from poisoning within the Mara wildlife habitat in the last two years.

  White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) | Coastweek

White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) is an Old World vulture in the family Accipitridae. In 2012 it was uplisted to Endangered. WIKIPEDIA PHOTO - HEIN WASCHEFORT
Rebecca Garbett, vulture conservation manager at Birdlife International in Africa, decried rampant poisoning of the bird species but called for targeted interventions to eradicate the vice and maintain an ecological balance in the wild.

"The good news is that we have a strong network of people at all levels, working together to respond to a poisoning incident, saving birds from dying, and creating awareness about the value of vultures for the Maasai Mara and beyond," said Garbett.


FAO expert calls for protecting Nile perches in Lake Victoria

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- A regional approach to regulate fish maw trade is needed to protect Nile perch stocks in Lake Victoria from being depleted, a fishery expert with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said here on Tuesday.

Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania need a joint approach to regulate the fish maw trade which threatens the Nile perch species in Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake which is shared by the three countries, said Jacob Olwo, FAO fisheries and aquaculture officer at FAO Uganda office.

"If we leave it unregulated it has a risk of depleting the resources," Olwo told reporters.

He noted that high prices have forced the fishermen to look for the bigger Nile perches to get bigger maws and make more money.

He said the bigger Nile perches are responsible for replenishing the stock and if they are depleted, there will no longer be any more Nile perches in the lake.

Uganda is making a law that would regulate the trade in fish maw, which supplies to a large market in Asia, he told reporters.

The Nile perch is a fish of substantial economic and food-security importance in East Africa.



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