vultures poisoned kruger national park
File photo of Lappet-faced and white-backed vultures scavenging on a dead elephant, Kruger National Park, South Africa, where more than 100 vultures were poisoned today. Photo: iStockPhoto

South African National Parks today, 11 August 2022 reported a horrific incident of suspected poisoning close to the fence in the Punda Maria Section of the Kruger National Park (KNP). Rangers on patrol discovered the carcass of a buffalo which appeared to have been laced with poison. They also found over 100 dead vultures and a dead hyena, likely to have fed off the carcass.

With the assistance of the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), twenty of the birds found next to the scene – which were still alive – were rushed to Shingwedzi and Mohololo Rehabilitation Centre for treatment. Yolan Friedman, CEO of the EWT expressed her concern that “given the critical status of vultures globally, poisonings at this scale places the species at increasing risk of extinction“.

The scene has been cordoned off for further investigation and the carcasses have been burned to ensure that there are no further poisonings. Initial indications are that some of the carcasses were harvested for their body parts. South African National Parks (SANParks) confirmed in a statement on Thursday evening that the matter has been referred to the SAPS (South African Police Service) for investigation.

Acting Chief Executive Officer of SANParks, Hapiloe Sello said that “this reprehensible act once again highlights the ever present danger of poisoning by unscrupulous people. We cannot afford to let our guards down and we call on law enforcement agencies outside the Park to move swiftly to arrest the perpetrators”.