Target: Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, Kenya Government
Goal: Protect vulnerable vulture populations in Kenya by preventing poisoning incidents.
Vulture populations in Kenya have declined by 60% in recent years. The main threat to vulture endangerment is accidental poisoning. Vultures are extremely important to the environment and the extinction of vultures could upset the delicate balance of the Kenyan ecosystem. Urge the Kenyan government to increase protections for vultures.
Vultures are known for their scavenging habits and appetite for carrion. In Kenya, many vulture populations prefer to scavenge for kills at nearby farms. The problem with eating cows from farms is that oftentimes the cows have ingested certain medicines that are lethal to vultures. One medicine in particular is diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory drug. Diclofenac is harmless to livestock but if ingested by a vulture, this drug causes dehydration, visceral gout and kidney failure within a few days. Vultures are highly sensitive to this chemical reaction and can die from the drug even if the carcass only contains less than 1% of diclofenac. Vultures usually feed together in flocks; therefore, one medicated carcass could kill up to 150 vultures. In other cases, farmers occasionally lace the bodies of dead cattle and goats with toxic pesticides in an attempt to poison carnivores that kill the livestock. Unfortunately, vultures that are scavenging around the area will feed on these poisoned carcasses instead and end up getting poisoned.
There are 8 vulture species residing in Kenya, and currently, 6 of those species are listed as endangered or threatened according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Vultures are extremely difficult to breed in captivity because they produce just one chick per year and mate for life. These species need increased protection from the Kenyan government or else their numbers will continue to decline. As exclusive scavengers, vultures help prevent the spread of diseases such as rabies and anthrax among wildlife, livestock, and humans. Scientists have reported that there are alternative medications to feed livestock that would not harm vultures. In addition, stricter regulations should be enforced to ensure that farmers do not accidentally poison vultures when intending to poison predatory carnivores.
Sign the petition below to implore the Kenyan government for increased vulture protection.
Dear Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife,
I am saddened to hear of the recent decline of vulture populations in Kenya. Vulture numbers have decreased by 60% and 6 out of the 8 vulture species in Kenya are now threatened or endangered. The main threat to these birds is accidental poisoning. As you may know, vultures are exclusively scavengers. They only feed on carcasses and carrion, which effectively helps to eliminate waste in the ecosystem. However, the vulture populations in Kenya tend to feed on livestock carcasses from nearby farmlands. These carcasses are oftentimes laced with poisonous toxins that are initially aimed to kill predatory carnivores but end up killing the feeding vultures. In addition, many of the livestock may have been medicated with an anti-inflammatory drug that causes dehydration, visceral gout, and kidney failure in vultures. Vultures cannot detect the presence of drugs in carcasses and unknowingly ingest the toxins.
Without vultures, diseases such as rabies, anthrax, and other bacterial infections would spread among wildlife, livestock, and humans. Vultures consume large amounts of meat and help to keep the environment clean and free of carcasses. As a species that is hard to breed in captivity, the vulture needs increased protection from the Kenyan government. There are alternative medications to feed livestock and stricter regulations should be enforced when intending to poison predatory carnivores. Please help save these magnificent birds.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Tony Hisgett via Wikimedia Commons