Poachers have poisoned hundreds of raptors in northern Botswana using three elephant carcasses as bait. The information has just been released by the Botswana Department of Wildlife and National Parks.
The incident took place just south of world famous Chobe National Park. Two tawny eagles and 537 vultures were found dead near the carcasses, which had their tusks chopped out. The poisoning killed 10 Cape, 4 lappet-faced, 17 white-hooded, 28 hooded and 468 white-backed vultures.
This might be the largest mass poisoning of vultures in Southern Africa. In 2013, 500 were poisoned in Zambezi (formerly Caprivi Strip) under similar circumstances, which was then deemed the highest such killing.
"This is one of the biggest knocks to vultures in our history," writes the vulture programme VulPro. "It is breeding season, so many are adults which means not only are they directly affected but their eggs/chicks have died too."
Vultures are very good at finding carrion and will soon circle and land. This is a giveaway for poachers wishing to remain in the area, so the birds have become a secondary casualty of rising poaching numbers in Botswana, a country that just lifted the ban on hunting.
The poisoning of carcasses shows...