Pungent smoke fills the air, a sickly combination of burning flesh and kerosene. The rangers rake more wood over the nine vulture carcasses; all traces of the poison must be burnt.
But the vultures weren’t the only casualties; the poison also struck its intended target. A week prior, a pride of lions killed two cows. Someone came back for the skins and meat, but left poisoned carcasses behind. At least one lion died as a result.
This poisoning was carried out on Mbirikani, which is covered by the Big Life compensation program, but by members of neighbouring Merueshi, who do not get compensated for livestock killed by wild predators. Mbirikani elders reacted by denying grazing access to Merueshi cattle, and, although this is unlikely to last, it is a huge statement in a land of pastoralists.
The suspects, the cow owner and his sons, have been arrested and charged, and we await the outcome. But unfortunately nothing changes the end result: dead animals.
Poison is a scary substance. It is cheaply available to EVERYONE. A person can kill easily, with little chance of being discovered. It is an insidious threat that cannot be fought this with boots on the ground. Rather, you need ways to change how people think, and behave, whether they’re being watched or not. And Big Life’s compensation program does exactly that.
With limited funding, we can only protect a finite number of lions. But your support is critical in making sure that we can at least do this.
Please support Big Life’s predator compensation program at: www.biglife.org/donations