Target: Goodluck Jonathan, President of Nigeria
Goal: Restrict the availability of agricultural pesticides used as deadly poisons on these endangered animals
In July 2013, nearly 500 vultures died in Namibia after eating an elephant carcass laced with pesticides. Setting such traps help poachers evade authorities, who can determine the location of the crime by vultures circling overhead. A new but increasingly common tactic, these highly toxic agricultural pesticides are mostly banned or restricted in the U.S. and throughout Europe, but are available for purchase at many small shops throughout rural Africa, according to a recent article in the New York Times. Favoring this method as a cheap, effective, and discreet way of covering their tracks, poachers have also found a more efficient way to deploy these pesticides. Pouring them into water holes, using them to coat arrows, and putting them on treats like pumpkin and watermelon, poachers are using these same poisons to kill elephants and rhinos, the carcasses of which lie wait for unsuspecting vultures.
Yet, aside from falling victim to the new wave of elephant and rhino poaching, vultures are being killed as part of a burgeoning trade for their parts that is particularly strong in Nigeria. Believed to have mystical qualities, powdered vulture parts are often used to ensure prosperity in business or to bring back a lost lover. Vultures are also dying from eating the poisoned carcasses of livestock, meant for predators like lions, leopards, and hyenas that prey on livestock.
This rampant killing of vultures could soon drive them extinct. Out of the nine main species of vultures in Africa, four are endangered and three are listed as vulnerable species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Their loss would have a devastating impact on the entire ecosystem down to human health as well. Often misunderstood as ominous creatures of death, vultures perform vital ecological functions, preventing the remains of dead animals from harboring infectious disease.
Please sign the petition below, and push for greater regulation over the distribution of these deadly agricultural pesticides. The fate of not merely one, but three species is at stake.
Dear President Jonathan,
I am writing in regard to the rampant killing of three endangered species – vultures, rhinos, and elephants – by way of common agricultural pesticides. Poachers have now taken to pouring these poisons into water holes and lacing treats like pumpkin and watermelon to kill rhinos and elephants. The carcasses remain to eliminate any unsuspecting vultures, helping poachers evade authorities. Furthermore, as you may be aware, the high demand for vulture parts in Nigeria is pushing some species to extinction. Their loss would have repercussions throughout the ecosystem, as these birds prevent dead animals from harboring infectious disease.
While the most commonly used of these pesticides are either banned or highly restricted in the U.S. or throughout Europe, they are available at shops selling agricultural products throughout rural Africa. I urge you to lead the way in implementing greater restrictions on the distribution of these toxic substances. Devoting resources to this aim is crucial for both the protection of local wildlife and human health.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Subharnab Majundar via Wikimedia Commons