On Sunday morning, a wildlife ranger in Nairobi, Kenya discovered 20 dead and 5 critically ill vultures slumped around a poisoned hyena carcass. Despite these tragic casualties, a rapid response protocol set up with the help of BirdLife almost certainly saved the lives of many more.
On the morning of the 27th of January, Eric Ole Reson was on his routine patrol on the Northern border of the Masai Mara when he spotted a group of vultures struggling to fly. Concerned, he hurried towards them, and stumbled across a tragic scene: 20 vultures lay dead around a hyena carcass, all of them Globally Threatened species including the Lappet-faced Vulture (Endangered) and Rüppell's Vulture (Critically Endangered). Beside them, six more vultures thrashed about in a critically ill state.
But despite this horrifying diorama, Reson didn’t panic or despair – he took action immediately. He knew exactly what he needed to do thanks to Kenya’s Rapid Response Poisoning Protocol, set up last year by a collaboration between BirdLife partners and other Kenyan conservation organisations* to tackle the growing threat of vulture poisoning.
Reson works for the The Peregrine Fund and the Masai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association, organisations who regularly patrol the area for signs of incidents just like these. Following protocol, Reson mobilized support from Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Bird of Prey Trust, members of the collaboration, who arrived on the scene in time to collect forensic samples and rescue the surviving birds. They were joined by nearby community members who had also been trained in the Rapid Response Poisoning Protocol.
5th February 2019