White-backed Vulture suffers steep decline in Botswana


Aerial surveys of White-backed Vulture in north-central Botswana have revealed a grim decline of the now Critically Endangered species.

The vulture is heavily threatened by poisoning which, in Africa, is often done intentionally. For example, ivory poachers sometimes douse elephant carcasses in pesticides to kill vultures that may otherwise gather around the remains and draw attention to their illegal activities. Other vultures are poisoned for the belief-based use of their body parts.

White-backed Vulture faces the threat of local extirpation from parts of Botswana (Richard Crossen).

The aerial surveys showed that nesting numbers of White-backed Vulture in the region had declined by more than half between 2006 and 2017, and breeding success was also significantly lower in 2017 than it was 10 years earlier.

Projections suggest that if recent high poisoning rates continue, this population could be extirpated from the nation in the next 13 years.