NAIROBI, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- Environmentalists on Thursday urged Kenya to control wildlife poisoning in order to save the vulture species from extinction.
Nature Kenya Advocacy Manager Serah Munguti told Xinhua in Nairobi that poisoning is responsible for a 70 percent population decline in the bird species over the past 30 years.
"The practice of poisoning of carcasses which is the main diet of vultures has led to a dramatic decline in their numbers," Munguti said.
Vultures are usually poisoned when predators such as leopards and lions kill livestock and herders in turn poison the carcass to eliminate the predators.
Munguti noted that vultures are usually the unintended victims of the poisoning events by the retaliatory acts of pastoralists.
Munguti said four out of the eight vulture species found in Kenya are now listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Two other species of the bird are listed as endangered.
Munguti added that vultures have often been negatively portrayed and this has complicated efforts to reverse their population decline.
Paul Gacheru, Species and Sites Program Manager at Nature Kenya, said that one way to save vultures from extinction is through better regulation of chemicals used to poisoning wildlife.
Gacheru noted that some of the pesticides used by pastoralists to kill predators have even being banned in the United States and Europe but are still available in Kenyan agro-veterinary shops.
According to the environmentalist, vultures play a vital role in the ecosystem. "The scavengers help to clean up the environment by feeding on carcasses left by other wildlife species," Gacheru said.