30 May 2005

Poison kills endangered blue cranes

Three blue cranes have died from poisoning near Port Elizabeth, the department of environmental affairs said on Friday.

The blue crane, South Africa's national bird, is an endangered species and has a population of less than 25 000.

"We suspect that it was poison used for chicory or insects. We have done a post mortem on the birds and the content of their stomachs have been sent to Onderstepoort for analysis," said department spokesperson Jaap Pienaar.

Two other cranes who survived the poisoning are in a stable condition. Five waterbirds were also killed by the same poison.

A flock of about 45 birds was suspected to be in the Nanagaga area where the birds died, and farmers have been asked to be on the look out for sick birds.

A farmer has come forward admitting that the birds may have been poisoned in his chicory field, which he sprayed earlier this week.

"We have established that is an accidental poisoning. What we want farmers to do is to have another employee patrolling the fields and chasing away birds until the plant have absorbed the poison," Endangered Wildlife Trust spokesperson Tim Snow said.

The numbers of blue cranes were being rapidly reduced by poisoning, Snow said.

However, department spokesperson Pienaar said: "This is a isolated case. We very rarely, if ever, find poisoned blue crane in the Eastern Cape."

Source: www.news24.com


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