Monday, September 23, 2013

Vultures and traditional medicine

Vultures are used in southern Africa as traditional medicine 
by a number of ethnic groups for a wide range of purposes, and recent research has for the first time attempted to quantify the extent 
of such use. Considering the impacts of other factors such as habitat loss, electrocutions, collisions 
with man‐made structures and direct or indirect poisoning, the extent of harvest of vultures for traditional medicine is a threat to the continued survival of a number of species of vultures.  This ultimately threatens the survival  of traditional  customs  and  belief systems  which rely  on the continued presence and use of vultures. 

Use of vultures is an important component of traditional medicine, particularlyin southern Africa and there is evidence to suggest that traditional use is at least partly responsible for the rapid decline of vulture populations in the subcontinent. There is a widely held belief

in many African cultures that health, disease, success or misfortune are not chance events but the result of the active influence of individuals or ancestral spirits. For this reason, traditional medicine is held in high esteem in such cultures and is regularly used by a large proportion of the population. Traditional

medicines represent herbal, animal and mineral material used for physiological as well as symbolic/psychological purposes. Approximately 80% of the population in South Africa uses traditional medicine in one form or another because pharmaceutical drugs are too expensive or traditional methods are considered more appropriate.