Target: Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa
Goal: Prevent the spread of deadly disease and stop poachers from poisoning vultures
Conservationists lament the loss of elephants and other wildlife killed by poachers. These animals are murdered for their furs and tusks, fueling the illegal wildlife trade. Much less attention has been given to the slaughter of another species: vultures. Whenever poachers make a kill vultures swoop down and begin eating the carcass. Such a massive congregation alerts park rangers of the kill, mobilizing them to act. To prevent potential conflict poachers often inject poison into the animals they kill in order to kill the vultures, too.
In just the past two years nearly 1,500 vultures have died in South Africa after eating poisoned meat, according to The Guardian. From one single carcass as many as 400 to 600 vultures were killed in Namibia’s Caprivi Strip. The decimation of vulture populations brings with it a rise in diseases. A coalition of environmental organizations warn the situation has become critical, with a 97% population decrease for some species in West Africa, and a 50-60% decrease in Eastern and Southern Africa.
Vultures are scavengers, and by eating carcasses they help stop the spread of disease. If too many are killed off then diseases like rabies can quickly spread to other animals including humans, killing them in turn. Poaching must be stopped as it is decimating populations of vital scavengers as well as large mammals. Tell the president of South Africa to contribute more manpower and resources to stop poachers from poisoning vultures.
Dear President Zuma,
The illegal wildlife trade has trapped vultures in the crossfire. These birds are scavengers, feeding on dead and rotting meat. When vultures gather around recent kills they alert game rangers to the presence of poachers. Poachers have come to hate them and in order to keep their activities a secret they often poison the meat of the animals they slaughter. One single carcass killed as many as 600 vultures, and local populations are declining quickly.
Vultures keep diseases in check and the loss of so many birds means increased incidence of deadly disease for humans as well as other animals. I am writing to urge your government to commit more manpower and resources into protecting these animals. Vultures may not be popular, but they are essential to keeping ecosystems sustainable and healthy.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Yathin sk via Wikimedia Commons