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Traditional medicine trade in vulture parts in northern Nigeria

Yohanna Saidu, Ralph Buij


We report findings on the vulture trade in northern Nigeria, where it is commonly practised especially to supply the traditional medicine industry. We administered an open-ended questionnaire to 113 traditional, predominantly Hausa medicinal traders in 39 markets within eight states in northern Nigeria. Of the interviewed traders, 78% only had feathers of vultures on display in their stalls, 11% also offered vulture heads and 4.4% offered entire vultures; 40% of traders sold vultures for spiritual healing and 25% sold vultures for consumption. Forty-three percent of traders were supplied most often from vulture populations inside Nigeria and 48% were principally supplied from other countries in the region, as far west as Benin and east to Sudan. Increased prices for parts during the past 10 years reflected similar, or perhaps increasing, demand but lower availability of vultures. Hooded Vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus) was the commonest species traded with 90% of parts belonging to this species. Vultures sold in stalls had been killed using agricultural chemicals, shotguns, traps, and ground tobacco powder. Urgent and drastic conservation measures are needed to prevent further exploitation of critically endangered vultures in Nigeria and surrounding countries.

Keywords: traditional medicine, vulture trade, northern Nigeria, conservation
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