Lead Poisoning in Vultures Workshop

WESM with funding from Bildlife International organized a 2 day workshop in Salima at Sunbird Livingstonia Hotel from 12 to 13 September 2023. The workshop was attended by national and international stakeholders from Malawi, Namibia, Kenya and South Africa. WESM Chairperson Dr. Tionge Mzumara Gawa, highlighted that Lead poisoning can be harmful to both animals and humans if consumed, therefore the use of live  ammunition in either hunting or getting rid of animals that are a threat to the community results into Lead poisoning. She said while there are several lead-exposure sources, it was worth noting that hunting ammunition remains a big contributor to lead exposure in both humans and wildlife. “Other countries have regulations in place regarding the use of lead shot and bullets as such the need for a national action plan on lead poisoning is of great essence to protect animals and human life,” she said.

Mzumara said having proper regulations and policies will mitigate the potential hazards of lead poisoning on both human health and the environment, which are closely associated with exposure to lead.Preventing Extinction Coordinator for Birdlife Africa International Fadzai Matsvimbo disclosed that one of the endangered species which are frequently exposed to lead poisoning are vultures which if not careful will be extinct.

She said taking into consideration that game meat can become part of the human diet, certain wildlife species, especially raptors such as hawks, eagles, and condors, are also affected by consuming animals that have either consumed or been shot with lead ammunition. On his part Director of Parks and Wildlife Brighton Kumchedwa said there is need for collaboration among stakeholders in order for the department of Parks and Wildlife to conduct thorough research on how ammunition is posing a threat not only to wildlife but humans as well. He said through the National Parks and Wildlife Act, restrictions are made on the permitted types of weapons for hunting, adding that non-compliance with these regulations is considered an offense under the Act.