Who will take out the trash?
June 11, 2012
The trash collectors in this ecosystem, vultures are unintentional victims of poisoned baits intended to kill livestock predators
Why is Mark Torchin, marine ecologist at STRI in Panama, coauthor of a paper about vultures in Kenya? “Darcy Ogada, the Smithsonian-Mpala Fellow in 2010, was looking for an advisor,” says Torchin. “My work on how animal interactions in a world increasingly modified by humans alter transmission of parasites and disease most closely matched her research question.”
Darcy was concerned about staggering declines in vulture populations near the Smithsonian’s Mpala research station. Vulture populations fell by 77 percent from 2000 to 2003.
The trash collectors in this ecosystem, vultures are unintentional victims of poisoned baits intended to kill livestock predators. Ogada discovered that when vultures don’t eat animal remains, mammalian scavengers like hyenas and jackals spend 5 times more time at a carcass, making the spread of canine distemper and rabies much more likely. Now, The Peregrine Fund’s Assistant Director of Africa Programs and Chair of the Raptor Working Group of Nature Kenya, Ogada continues to advocate vulture conservation in East Africa.