Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-xfwgj Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-25T09:05:45.789Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Trade in vulture parts in West Africa: Burkina Faso may be one of the main sources of vulture carcasses

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 July 2022

Clément Daboné*
University Centrer of Tenkodogo, University Thomas Sankara, Tenkodogo, Burkina Faso Laboratory of Animal Biology and Ecology, University Joseph Ki-Zerbo, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Adama Ouéda
Laboratory of Animal Biology and Ecology, University Joseph Ki-Zerbo, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Lindy J. Thompson
Endangered Wildlife Trust, Midrand, 1685, South Africa Centre for Functional Biodiversity, School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X01, Scottsville, 3201, South Africa
Jacques Boco Adjakpa
Laboratory of Research in Applied Biology, University of Abomey-Calavi, Abomey-Calavi, Benin
Peter DM Weesie
Integrated Research on Energy, Environment and Society, Faculty of Sciences and Engineering, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
*Author for correspondence: Clément Daboné, Email:


The current catastrophic decline in African vultures is caused mainly by poisoning, and killing for consumption and belief-based use (traditional medicine). To find out more about the key threats to vultures in West Africa, we assessed the main anthropogenic causes of vulture mortality in Burkina Faso. We analysed incidents of mass vulture mortality, based on interviews conducted in 2016 with local butchers, veterinarians, foresters, and abattoir watchmen at 44 sites across the country. A total of 730 interviews revealed that poisoning was the main cause of mortality of vultures in Burkina Faso (20 of the 23 mass mortality incidents described by respondents were caused by poisoning). Poisoning was also the most lethal threat to vultures (779 out of 879 known vulture deaths were due to poisoning). According to the survey, intentional poisoning of vultures with poisoned baits (which comprised 15 out of 23 mass mortality incidents) produced the highest number of victims (577 out of 879 dead vultures). The number of vultures killed by poisoned baits was higher closer to the borders than elsewhere in Burkina Faso and we believe these recent intentional vulture poisoning events in Burkina Faso were intended to meet the growing demand for vulture body parts in West Africa. The survey showed that unintentional poisoning was the second main cause of vulture mass mortality (5 out of 23 mass mortality incidents comprising 202 of 879 dead vultures). Other important anthropogenic causes of vulture mortality included electrocution at electricity poles and motor vehicle collisions. Our results highlight the need for awareness campaigns, improved policy and legislation, and stronger commitment from governments in West Africa, to halt the trade in vultures and prevent their extirpation.

Research Article
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of BirdLife International

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Africa Geographic (2019) Catastrophic breaking news: 537 vultures found poisoned in dark day for Botswana conservation. [accessed 09 April 2021].Google Scholar
AIB (2012) Un homme interpelé à Bitou avec trois cadavres de vautours. Agence de l’Information du Burkina,, 9 November. [accessed 20 June 2018].Google Scholar
Alarcón, P. A. and Lambertucci, S. A. (2018) Pesticides thwart condor conservation. Science 360: 612.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Avery, M. L. and Cummings, J. L. (2004) Livestock depredations by black vultures and golden eagles. Sheep and Goat Res. J. 19: 5863.Google Scholar
Awoyemi, S. (2014) Vulture declines in West Africa: investigating the scale and (socioeconomic) drivers of the trade in vulture parts for traditional medicine. Placement Report, MPhil in Conservation Leadership (Examination no. 92), Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, UK. [accessed 20 June 2020].Google Scholar
Bernard, H. R. (2002) Research methods in anthropology: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. 3rd edition. Walnut Creek, CA, USA: Altamira Press.Google Scholar
Berny, P. (2007) Pesticides and the intoxication of wild animals. J. Vet. Pharmacol. Ther. 30: 93100.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Boakye, M. K., Wiafe, E. D. and Ziekah, M. Y. (2019) Ethnomedicinal use of vultures by traditional medicinal practitioners in GhanaOstrich 90: 111118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Borrow, N. and Demey, R. (2001) The birds of Western Africa. London, UK: C. Helm.Google Scholar
Botha, A. J., Andevski, J., Bowden, C. G. R., Gudka, M., Safford, R. J., Tavares, J. et al. (2017) Multi-species Action Plan to conserve African-Eurasian vultures. Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: Coordinating Unit of the CMS Raptors MOU. (CMS Raptors MOU Technical Publication No. 5. CMS Technical Series No. 35).Google Scholar
Buij, R. and Croes, B. M. (2014) Raptors in northern Cameroon, December 2005–December 2010. Bull. Afr. Bird Club 2: 2663.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Buij, R., Nikolaus, G., Whytock, R., Ingram, D. J. and Ogada, D. L. (2016) Trade of threatened vultures and other raptors for fetish and bushmeat in West and Central Africa. Oryx 50: 606616.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Craig, C. A., Thomson, R. L. and Santangeli, A. (2018) Communal farmers of Namibia appreciate vultures and the ecosystem services they provide. Ostrich 89: 211220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cresswell, J. W. and Plano Clark, V. L. (2011) Designing and conducting mixed method research. 2nd edition. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
Daboné, C., Buij, R., Oueda, A., Adjakpa, J. B., Guenda, W. and Weesie, P. D.M. (2019) Impact of human activities on the reproduction of the Hooded Vultures, Necrosyrtes monachus in Garango area (Burkina Faso). Ostrich 90: 5361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Di Vittorio, M., Hema, E. M., Dendi, D., Akani, G. C., Cortone, G., López-López, P., Amadi, M., Hoinsoudé Ségniagbeto, G., Battisti, C. and Luiselli, L. (2018) The conservation status of west African vultures: an updated review and a strategy for conservation. Vie Milieu-Life Environ. 68: 3343.Google Scholar
Duriez, O., Descaves, S., Gallais, R., Neouze, R., Fluhr, J. and Decante, F. (2019) Vultures attacking livestock: a problem of vulture behavioural change or farmers’ perception? Bird Conserv. Internatn. 29: 437453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fleischli, M. A., Franson, J. C., Thomas, N. J., Finley, D. L. and Riley, W. (2004) Avian mortality events in the United States caused by anticholinesterase pesticides: a retrospective summary of National Wildlife Health Center records from 1980 to 2000. Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 46: 542550.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Garbett, R., Herremans, M., Maude, G., Reading, R. P. and Amar, A. (2018) Raptor population trends in northern Botswana: a re-survey of road transects after 20 years. Biol. Conserv. 224: 8799.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Guitart, R., Sachana, M., Caloni, F., Croubels, S., Vandenbroucke, V. and Berny, P. (2010) Animal poisoning in Europe. Part 3: wildlife. Vet. J. 183: 260265.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Henriques, M., Lecoq, M., Monteiro, H., Regalla, A., Granadeiro, J. P. and Catry, P. (2017) Status of birds of prey in Guinea-Bissau: first assessment based on road surveys. Ostrich 88: 101111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Henriques, M., Buij, R., Monteiro, H., , J., Wambar, F., Tavares, J. P., Botha, A., Citegetse, G., Lecoq, M., Catry, P. and Ogada, D. (2020) Deliberate poisoning of Africa’s vultures. Science 370: 304.Google ScholarPubMed
Hille, S. M. and Collar, N. J. (2011) Status assessment of raptors in Cape Verde confirms a major crisis for scavengers. Oryx 45: 217224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Houston, D. C. (1996) The effect of altered environments on vultures. Pp. 327336 in Bird, D., Varland, E. and Negro, J. J., eds. Raptors in human landscapes. London, UK: Academic Press.Google Scholar
Ibrahim, B., Polcher, J., Karambiri, H., Yacouba, H. and Ribstein, P. (2014) Changes in rainfall regime over Burkina Faso under the climate change conditions simulated by 5 regional climate models. Clim. Dyn. 42: 13631381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jallow, M., Barlow, C. R., Sanyang, L., Dibba, L., Kendall, C., Bechard, M. and Bildstein, K. L. (2016) High population density of the Critically Endangered Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus in Western Region, The Gambia, confirmed by road surveys in 2013 and 2015. Malimbus 38: 2328.Google Scholar
Kabir, S. M. S. (2016) Basic guidelines for research: An introductory approach for all disciplines. Chittagong, Bangladesh: Book Zone Publication.Google Scholar
Kim, S., Park, M.-Y., Kim, H.-J., Shin, J. Y., Ko, K. Y., Kim, D.-G., Kim, M., Kang, H.-G., So, B. and Park, S.-W. (2016) Analysis of insecticides in dead wild birds in Korea from 2010 to 2013. Bull. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 96: 2530.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Lambertucci, S. A., Margalida, A., Speziale, K.L., et al. (2021) Presumed killers? Vultures, stakeholders, misperceptions, and fake news. Conserv. Sci. Practice 3: e415: 110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Loveridge, R., Ryan, G. E., Phearun, S., Gray-Read, O., Mahood, S. P., Mould, A., Harrison, S., Crouthers, R., Ko, S., Clements, T., Eames, J. C. and Pruvot, M. (2019) Poisoning causing the decline in South-East Asia’s largest vulture population. Bird Conserv. Internatn. 29: 4154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
MaMing, R. and Xu, G. (2015) Status and threats to vultures in China. Vulture News 68: 324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mander, M., Diederichs, N., Ntuli, L., Mavundla, K., Williams, V. and McKean, S. (2007) Survey of the trade in vultures for the traditional health industry in South Africa. Unpublished report, pp. 54.Google Scholar
Margalida, A. (2012) Baits, budget cuts: a deadly mix. Science 338: 192.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Margalida, A., Heredia, R., Razin, M. and Hernández, M. (2008) Sources of variation in mortality of the Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus in Europe. Bird Conserv. Internatn. 18: 110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Margalida, A., Campión, D. and Donázar, A. J. (2011) European vultures’ altered behaviour. Nature 480: 457.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Margalida, A., Campión, D. and Donázar, A. J. (2014) Vultures vs livestock: Conservation relationships in an emergent human-wildlife conflict. Oryx 48: 172176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Margalida, A., Ogada, D. and Botha, A. (2019) Protect African vultures from poison. Science, 365: 10891090.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Mashele, N. M., Thompson, L. J. and Downs, C. T. (2021) Uses of vultures in traditional medicines in the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region, South Africa. J. Raptor Res. 55: 328339.Google Scholar
McKean, S. (2004) Traditional use of vultures: Some perspectives in the vultures of southern Africa – Quo Vadis? Pp. 195201 in Proceedings of a workshop on vulture research and conservation in southern Africa. Birds of Prey Working Group.Google Scholar
McKean, S., Mander, M., Diederichs, N., Ntuli, L., Mavundla, K., Williams, V. and Wakelin, J. (2013) The impact of traditional use on vultures in South Africa. Vulture News 65: 1536.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
MECV (2007) Programme d’Action National d’Adaptation à la Variabilité et aux Changements Climatiques. Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso: Ministère de l’Environnement et du Cadre de Vie, Secrétariat permanent du conseil national de l’environnement et du développement durable.Google Scholar
Mineau, P., Fletcher, M. R., Glaser, L. C., Thomas, N. J., Brassard, C., Wilson, L. K., Elliott, J. E., Lyon, L. A., Henny, C. J. and Bollinger, T. (1999) Poisoning of raptors with organophosphorus and carbamate pesticides with emphasis on Canada, US and UK. J. Raptor Res. 33: 137.Google Scholar
Monadjem, A., Kane, A., Botha, A., Kelly, C. and Murn, C. (2018) Spatially explicit poisoning risk affects survival rates of an obligate scavenger. Sci. Rep. 8: 4364.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Mullié, W. C., Couzi, F.-X., Diop, M. S., Piot, B., Peters, T., Reynaud, P. A. and Thiollay, J.-M. (2017) The decline of an urban Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus population in Dakar, Senegal, over 50 yearsOstrich 88: 131138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mundy, P., Butchart, D., Ledger, J. and Piper, S. (1992) The vultures of Africa. London, UK: Academic Press.Google Scholar
Murn, C. and Botha, A. (2018) A clear and present danger: Impacts of poisoning on a vulture population and the effect of poison response activities. Oryx 52: 552558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nabaloum (2012a) Tribunal de grande instance de Ouagadougou: Ils tuent 71 vautours et écopent de 18 mois de prison., 19 January. [accessed 20 April 2018].Google Scholar
Nabaloum (2012b) Braconnage: 26 vautours tués pour être exportés au Nigeria., 11 avril. [accessed 23 July 2019].Google Scholar
Nikolaus, G. (2011) The fetish culture in West Africa: an ancient tradition as a threat to endangered bird life? Pp. 145155 in Schuchmann, K.L., ed. Tropical vertebrates in a changing world. Bonn, Germany: Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig.Google Scholar
Nosazeogie, E., Tende, T. and Monadjem, A. (2018) Hooded Vultures Necrosyrtes monachus nearly extirpated from Edo State, Nigeria: A report on the avian scavenger communityOstrich 89: 265273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ogada, D. L. (2014) The power of poison: Pesticide poisoning of Africa’s wildlife. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 1322: 120.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Ogada, D. L. and Keesing, F. (2010) Decline of raptors over a three-year period in Laikipia, central Kenya. J. Raptor Res. 44: 129135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ogada, D. L. and Buij, R. (2011) Large declines of the Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus across its African range. Ostrich 82: 101113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ogada, D. L., Keesing, F. and Virani, M. Z. (2012) Dropping dead: Causes and consequences of vulture population declines worldwide. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 1249: 5771.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Ogada, D. L., Shaw, P., Beyers, R. L., Buij, R., Murn, C., Thiollay, J. M., Beale, C. M., Holdo, R. M., Pomeroy, D., Baker, N., Krüger, S. C., Botha, A., Virani, M. Z., Monadjem, A. and Sinclair, A. R. E. (2016a) Another continental vulture crisis: Africa’s vultures collapsing toward extinction. Conserv. Lett. 9: 8997.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ogada, D., Botha, A. and Shaw, P. (2016b) Ivory poachers and poison: drivers of Africa’s declining vulture populations. Oryx 50: 593596.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pantović, U. and Andevski, J. (2018) Review of the problem of poison use and vulture poisoning in the Balkan Peninsula. The Netherlands: Vulture Conservation Foundation.Google Scholar
Patton, M. (2002) Qualitative research and evaluation methods. 3rd edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
Pauli, J. N., Donadio, E. and Lambertucci, S.A. (2018) The corrupted carnivore: how humans are rearranging the return of the carnivore-scavenger relationship. Ecology 99: 21222124.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Pavez, E. F. and Estades, C. F. (2016) Causes of admission to a rehabilitation center for Andean Condors (Vultur gryphus) in Chile. J. Raptor Res. 50: 2332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Portier, B. (2007) Les oiseaux. In Nazinga. Les presses agronomiques de Gembloux.Google Scholar
Richards, N., Ogada, D., Buij, R. and Botha, A. (2017) The killing fields: The use of pesticides and other contaminants to poison wildlife in Africa. Encyclopedia of the Anthropocene 5: 161167.Google Scholar
Safford, R., Andevski, J., Botha, A., Bowden, C. G. R., Crockford, N., Garbett, R., et al., (2019) Vulture conservation: the case for urgent action. Bird Conserv. Internatn. 29: 19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Saidu, Y. and Buij, R. (2013) Traditional medicine trade in vulture parts in northern Nigeria. Vulture News 65: 414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Spradley, J. (1979) The ethnographic interview. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.Google Scholar
Thiollay, J.-M. (2006a) Large bird declines with increasing human pressure in savanna woodlands (Burkina Faso). Biodivers. Conserv. 15: 20852108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
J.-M, Thiollay. (2006b) The decline of raptors in West Africa: Long-term assessment and the role of protected areas. Ibis 148: 240254.Google Scholar
Thiollay, J.-M. (2007a) Raptor declines in West Africa: comparisons between protected, buffer and cultivated areas. Oryx 41: 322329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Thiollay, J.-M. (2007b) Raptor population decline in West Africa. Ostrich 78: 405413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Virani, M. Z., Kendall, C., Njoroge, P. and Thomsett, S. (2011) Major declines in the abundance of vultures and other scavenging raptors in and around the Masai Mara ecosystem, Kenya. Biol. Conserv. 144: 746752.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Weesie, P. D. M. and Belemsobgo, U. (1997) Les rapaces diurnes du ranch de gibier de Nazinga (Burkina Faso): liste commentée, analyse du peuplement et cadre biogéographique. Alauda 65: 263278.Google Scholar
Supplementary material: File

Daboné et al. supplementary material


Download Daboné et al. supplementary material(File)
File 45.2 KB