African vultures declining at a critical rate
“Nobody liked vultures much until now, but the change isn’t good news. Big birds appear to be next on the hunters’ list for the bushmeat trade, and vultures are their new favourite.
Researchers visited hundreds of bushmeat stalls at 67 markets in 12 countries across West and Central Africa, and found 52 species of vultures and other raptors for sale. More than a quarter of them are classified as near threatened, vulnerable or endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List.
Team member Ralph Buij of Wageningen University in the Netherlands estimates that more than 6000 of these birds are traded across West Africa alone each year, including around a thousand endangered hooded vultures.
The numbers may not sound huge, but Buij says that the trade represents “a sizeable proportion” of the populations of some species. The team estimates that 5 to 8 per cent of West Africa’s 450 or so white-headed vultures end up on meat stalls each year, for instance.”
“Vultures play a vital role in clearing up carcasses of wild animals and livestock, suppressing the transmission of diseases to humans via mammal scavengers such as dogs,” says Phil Shaw of the University of St Andrews in the UK.”
Above extracts taken from Vultures are new target for African bushmeat and medicine trade’ in the New Scientist 1st September 2015