Police officers in Rumuruti, Laikipia County are currently holding a camel owner who has been linked to the poisoning of 18 endangered vultures.
According to the Kenya Wildlife Service, preliminary investigations showed that the endangered birds had passed away after consuming poisoned camel carcasses earlier in the week.
The service further indicated that the carcasses had earlier been preyed on by a lion.
“The dead vultures are 11 ruffous vultures, seven tawny eagles, and one silver jackal, all endangered species.” The service said in a statement.
The service further added that the two camels had gone missing from the suspect’s homestead four days earlier with the footprints of a lion being sighted in the vicinity after their disappearance.
“Kenya Wildlife Service is working with the local administration and Directorate of Criminal Investigations to determine the source of the poison.” The service added.
This comes amidst a desperate push by the service to salvage the critically reduced numbers of vultures in the country.
A 2015 Research by the journal of conservation biology indicated that the populations of more than 6 species of the African vulture had declined with more than 62% over the past three decades.
According to a report by the National Geographic,most of the vultures are caught up as collateral damage in the conflict between humans and predators.
“Herders who lose livestock to lions, hyenas, and other carnivores will sometimes sprinkle toxic pesticides over the felled animals’ carcasses in retaliation. The poison kills the predator, but it also kills the vultures who swoop in to eat the poisoned animals.” The media house wrote last year.
Conservationists have overtime called on the government to tighten the noose on offenders to reduce the decline.
According to section 92 of the Wildlife Act in Kenya, “Any person who commits an offense in respect of an endangered or threatened species or in respect of any trophy of that endangered or threatened species shall be liable upon conviction to a fine of not less than twenty million shillings or life imprisonment or both.”