Dead juvenile Bearded Vulture

Lead Poisoning

The impacts of lead poisoning through the ingestion of spent lead ammunition used by hunters and wildlife managers to kill game is well known for a wide range of bird species contributing to population declines as well as creating extensive avoidable deaths and sickness among waterbirds and scavengers. Elevated Blood Lead Levels have been found in White-backed and Cape Vultures in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana and elevated Bone Lead levels have been found in Bearded Vultures in South Africa and Lesotho. In areas where game-hunting is a significant activity the ingestion of lead fragments by vultures could have both lethal and sub-lethal effects. Elevated lead levels could have a detrimental impact on breeding productivity which is especially important for slow-reproducing species like vultures, the effects of which are compounded by small and rapidly declining populations. Sub-lethal lead poisoning also has a number of other secondary effects, such as reduced mobility or increased risk of collision.

Maloti-Drakensberg Vulture Project