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More than 500 vultures in Africa have been poisoned, after the elephant carcasses were laced with chemicals.
In a Facebook post on Thursday, the Botswanan government has confirmed that the poisoning took place in the southern African nation’s Central District.
“The poisoning was believed to have been caused by the lace-up, three poached elephant carcasses with the toxic chemicals,” he said. “A total of 537 rushing and two tawny eagles that were found dead at the site. The breakdown of 10 of the cape vulture, 14 the lappet faced vulture, 468 white-backed vultures, of 17, white-headed vultures, and 28 hooded vulture.”
SHOCKING, ” EAGLE SLAUGHTER: MASS POISONING KILLED 137 BIRDS OF PREY
A file photo of A Hooded Vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus) – in anticipation of the scraps of a lion kill at the Linyanti Reserve near the we were hungry the Channel is in the northern part of the okavango delta.
(Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Botswanan officials have said that the law enforcement are working around the clock to decontaminate the area. “Sampling of carcasses and in the environment it was made for a laboratory investigation,” she added.
It is not known whether the birds were poisoned, even though the BBC is reporting that the vultures are circling above a carcass to alert the authorities to the presence of poachers.
White-backed vultures and white-headed vultures, and hooded vultures are classified as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (world conservation union (IUCN), which warned that their populations are declining. The cape vulture is classified as “endangered” by the IUCN, while lappet-faced vultures and tawny eagles, are classified as “vulnerable.”
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In a Facebook post, a South Africa-based vulture conservation program VulPro, described the mass poisoning as a “gut-wrenching”, and the devastating impact of the murders. “This is one of the biggest shocks to the vultures in our time”, as he said. “Well, it is breeding season, so a lot of adults, this means that not only are they directly affected, but their eggs/chicks died and the vultures are monogamous, and we have lost breeding pairs in the wild population.”
The Botswanan government has come under fire recently over its controversial decision to ban elephant hunting.
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Botswana is a relatively safe haven for the elephants on the continent, where illegal poaching, and habitat loss sent their numbers are in sharp decline. The country is home to an estimated 130,000 African elephants, with about one-third of the world, the rest of the population.
The Associated Press contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers