The Director of Birdlife Botswana, Dr Kabelo Senyatso says vultures should be protected because they have potential to boost Botswana’s tourism industry. The country has one of the largest and varied populations of vultures in Africa.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Senyatso gave an example of a group of youth in Otse who utilize the birds’ species to empower themselves.
“They guide tourists to where these birds breed and allow them to take pictures. These young people have now learnt the behavior of vultures. They know where they go out to feed and they have committed to educating communities not to poison carcasses of dead animals as this could leads to the death of the vultures,” said Senyatso.
He expressed worry over the declining population of vultures in Botswana, saying it might pose serious threats to the country’s eco-system.
“Vultures are very important to the environment because when they feed on carcasses they reduce the spread of deadly diseases like Anthrax and Rabies. Countries where vultures are extinct are unable to control the spread of such diseases,” he said.
In response to the problem of declining vulture populations, Birdlife Botswana has launched a campaign called “I want Botswana vultures ALIVE- not DEAD’.
“Through this campaign we want people to be aware that poisoning vultures can result in poisoning of wells and water sources, which poses a threat to people’s lives,” he said.
Priority actions in the campaign include research and monitoring to produce evidence that will persuade government and industry to change their practices and commit resources to vulture conservation. Secondly, the campaign will map areas where vultures are found and the threats they face.
“Mapping will enable identification and protection of ‘vulture hotspots’, including vulture breeding colonies. After that we will educate people ÔÇô including donors and decision-makers ÔÇô to change their perceptions about vultures.
We will also support local conservation action and encourage farmers, community based organization, government agencies, companies and members of the public from different areas of the country to network, share experiences and get involved with saving Botswana’s vultures,” said Senyatso.