Poisoning

The poisoning of Birds of Prey is not something exclusive to Britain; sadly it happens globally.  Historically, the Wedge-tailed Eagle was nearly wiped out in its native Australia as it was regarded as vermin by farmers, a bounty was put on its head and it was shot and poisoned.  It is thought that up to 30,000 a year were killed at the peak of persecution.  Thankfully, this bird is now fully protected and numbers have recovered well.  In Africa, farmers and livestock owners are known to leave out carcasses laced with poison to kill cheetahs and lions which may target their livestock.  This sort of poisoning is indiscriminate as it also kills scavenging eagles and vultures and can have profound effects on regional populations.  A more recent problem in Africa is the poisoning of elephant and rhino carcasses being killed for ivory.   The carcasses are poisoned by the poachers as they have realised circling vultures can give their location and illegal activities away.  This sort of poisoning can be catastrophic with 65 vultures being found dead at one carcass!

,dead vultures

65 poisoned vulture from one carcass (Andre Botha)

vulture dead

The poisons are so acute this bird died still eating!

(Andre Botha)

In America, the California Condor became extinct in the wild in 1987, with the remaining few birds being taken into captivity for breeding.  This decline was, in part, down to lead poisoning with birds ingesting animals containing lead shot.  Despite all the fantastic conservation work carried out and California Condors now breeding once again in the wild, some birds are still dying from lead poisoning.

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