More than 100 vultures were found dead after a suspected poisoning in the Punda Maria section of the Kruger National Park (KNP).

SANParks said that last week Thursday, on the 11th of August, rangers on patrol found a site full of death near the fence in Punda Maria. About 100 vultures were dead and next to them were the carcasses of a hyena and a buffalo.

The buffalo, according to the park, appeared to have been laced with poison and the hyena possibly died after having fed off it.

Luckily, 20 of the birds found next to the scene were still alive, and with the assistance of the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), they were rushed to Shingwedzi and Mohololo Rehabilitation Centre for treatment.

Yolan Friedman, the CEO of the EWT, expressed her concern that given the critical status of vultures globally, poisonings at this scale places the species at increasing risk of extinction.

Globally, the population of vultures have suffered a serious decline with some species recording about a 95% decline. This decline was blamed on various factors including direct persecution, poisoning, death from diclofenac biomagnification, use of vulture parts for traditional medicines.

Initial indications were that some of the carcasses were harvested for their body parts. The scene had to be cordoned off for further investigation and the carcasses burned to ensure that there were no further poisonings.

SANParks confirmed that the matter was referred to SAPS for investigation. “This reprehensible act once again highlights the ever-present danger of poisoning by unscrupulous people,” said Hapiloe Sello, SANParks acting CEO.

“We cannot afford to let our guards down and we call on law enforcement agencies outside the Park to move swiftly to arrest the perpetrators.”