Vulture Populations

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Within biological studies, it is generally well understood that an ecosystem is likened to a very complex spiderweb. Made up of an uncountable number of interactions between the biotic and abiotic factors in an ecosystem, even a single factor can affect the rest. Disturbing one or more connections in a web can compromise the whole structure, and ecosystems are very much the same way; complex and fragile. According to the 2015 New York Times article by Marc Santora “Vulture Populations Wane, Poisoned by Man”, one of the threads in the African ecosystem web has been severely damaged, and is having adverse affects on the rest of the ecosystem. Santora (2015) is reporting on the first major study of the 30 year decline in vulture populations across…show more content…
Dr. Ogada et al. (2015) study confirms this, and notes that this change occurred over just three generations. Species where populations are down over 80% should be moved from endangered to critically endangered species. Ogada et al. (2015) made a chart projecting the decline over the next three generations, and it is plain to see that several of the current species will be extremely close to extinction, if not already wiped out. Santora (2015) talks about how humans are the major factor to the decline in vulture numbers. This agrees with how Ogada et al. (2015) presented the information. The paper states that poisoning and medicinal use account for ~90% of the vultures reported deaths, with 61% being poison related deaths and 29% of deaths for the purpose of use in traditional medicines (Ogada et al. 2015). The news article also discusses poisoning as number one reason for vulture mortality (Santora, 2015). Again, this is consistent with the information Ogada et al. (2015) presents. In Africa, corpses of dead livestock are poisoned so as to kill the larger predators…show more content…
(2015) came to the conclusion that 61% of vulture deaths were due to poisoning, while another 29% was use of vulture parts in traditional medicine. Another study that was conducted regarding declining vulture populations in India proved that a veterinary drug used on livestock was responsible for a decreased population of Oriental White Backed Vultures of 95%, post-mortem exams confirmed (Oaks et al. 2004). Another study suggested that only 1% of carcasses needed to be contaminated with this drug to see devastating affect on population numbers, but it was likely more were (Green et al. 2004). Although the reason for vulture decline had been attributed to pesticide use in Asia, the reason for vulture decline in Africa was not well understood until a paper was published in 2012 by Roxburgh and Mcdougell. They researched areas in Zambia and Malawi, in Africa, where vultures were being killed. They were able to identify many poisoning sites (some created to stop predators from eating livestock, while others were made specifically for vultures) and vulture corpses they assumed were being killed for traditional medicines. It appeared that many of the sites in Malawi were designed to poison the vultures and lower their populations so that poachers' illegal hunting excursions weren't discovered by the birds, so that they would not attract any unwanted attention. Most of the deaths in Zambia, however, were thought to be due to the need for vulture body parts in

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