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Poisoned vultures pose risk to people's health

Vulture parts used in traditional medicines can be poisonous to people, according to Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife.

Vulture parts used in traditional medicines can be poisonous to people, according to Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife.

"Poachers use strong poisons to kill the birds and then sell them on to the large, urban muti-markets throughout the country," said the nature conservation authority yesterday.

"Consumers unknowingly buy these poisoned birds or their parts, thereby exposing themselves to severe risks of fatal poisoning or serious illness should they eat a part of the bird or ingest it as part of a muti mix."

The wildlife authority said there was no perceptible way members of the public could discern a poisoned vulture from a bird that has not been poisoned.

In January, 51 birds were killed using a poison so powerful it did not break down but was carried in the body parts and flesh of the dead birds.

Khulani Mkhize of Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife said that besides the human health aspect of this issue, the authority also had to face the possible impending extinction of vultures from poisoning.

He said if they were not afforded more protection, some vulture species in South Africa would be extinct by 2020. - Sapa

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