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Posted Fri Dec 17 2010: from BBC:
Poisoning drives vulture decline in Masai Mara, Kenya
Vulture populations in one of Africa's most important wildlife reserves have declined by 60 percent, say scientists. The researchers suggest that the decline of vultures in Kenya's Masai Mara is being driven by poisoning. The US-based Peregrine Fund says farmers occasionally lace the bodies of dead cattle or goats with a toxic pesticide called furadan. This appears to be aimed at carnivores that kill the livestock, but one carcass can poison up to 150 vultures.... "People may think of vultures as ugly and disgusting, but the birds are essential for the ecosystem," he says. Their taste for carrion actually makes them the landscape's clean-up team - ensuring the region is not littered with bodies, helping contain the spread of disease and recycling nutrients.... The terrible consequences of a vulture population crash have already been demonstrated during a case that became known as the Asian vulture crisis.... "If we lost the vultures," says Dr Murani, "tourists would have to travel around the reserve with face masks on, because the stench from rotting wildebeest carcasses would be unbearable."
[Read more stories about: unintended consequences, health impacts, toxic buildup]

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'Doc Michael says:
"Ugly and disgusting," yes, but less so than a landscape littered with rotting wildebeest carcasses.

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