Church leaders, traditional healers the biggest buyers of endangered vultures for ‘spiritual war chest’ – new study reveals
SPECIAL birds are slowly facing extinction in the face of a huge demand on the illegal market which is precipitated by traditional healers and church leaders clamour, a latest survey has revealed.
Birds, particularly vultures have flooded markets as traditional leaders and church pastors make a beeline for purchase.
Parts of vultures are superstitiously believed to possess powers to heal, foretell and fortune-telling which lull people to their respective altars.
The vultures’ parts are also used by traditional healers for medicinal purposes.
This is contained in a study that was done by environmental conservationists Birdlife Zimbabwe and National University of Science and Technology (NUST).
“We wanted to understand the drivers of what is causing demand for the vultures’ parts and in turn who are the people seeking them. We also wanted to assess the scale and severity of this trade.
“When we went around asking who was coming to purchase these parts, the dominant answers were prophets and members of the apostolic sect,” said Birdlife representative Benhilder Antonio.
Spiritual leaders have been mushrooming in Zimbabwe with theatrics that raise eyebrows with questions being raised over their source of power.
Traditional healers associations have on numerous occasions denounced those who use animal parts in their practice.
According to researchers, vultures are endangered species in Zimbabwe which face threats of poaching and poisoning.
Vultures are protected animals under the sixth schedule of the Parks and Wildlife Act and possession of its parts may attract a jail term.
“This is where we are as a country. An increased awareness of these species and show people what our world is like without vultures. We need everyone to be on board as far as protecting vultures is concerned. We are trying to figure out if there are medicinal alternatives so that we protect these vultures,” said Antonio. — NewZimbabwe