How are environmental chemicals affecting vultures?
Vultures are long-lived birds, and because they are scavengers, they're vulnerable to chronic chemical exposure through the food chain. An article published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry reviews the primary chemical hazards faced by Old World vulture populations, which are undergoing rapid declines in Africa.
Environmental chemicals that are hazardous to Old World vultures include legacy chemicals, emerging chemicals of concern, and high-volume use chemicals that are weed killers and are used in various agricultural applications.
"Vultures provide an essential component of sustaining ecosystem health by waste removal, diminished disease transmission, and nutrient recycling," said lead author Sonja Krüger, Ph.D., of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, in South Africa. "The African vulture crisis is an example of the complex challenges facing wildlife world-wide," added corresponding author Mary Ann Ottinger, Ph.D., of the University of Houston.