Snake Population On The Decline On Three Continents

Distinct populations of snake species on three continents have crashed over the last decade, raising fears that the reptiles may be in global decline, according to a study published recently.The pattern across the eight species monitored was alarmingly similar despite their geographical isolation, which points to a common cause such as climate change, the researchers said.

Other factors known to play a role include habitat loss, pollution, disease, lack of prey and over-exploitation, either for food or trade.The study showed that 11 of 17 snake populations in Britain, France, Italy, Nigeria and Australia dropped off sharply over a four-year period starting in the late 1990s.“Our data revealed an alarming trend,” the authors reported in the British Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

World Cup Threat To Rare Vulture

One of Africa’s largest birds of prey is being taken to the edge of extinction by South African gamblers who believe that smoking its brains will give them supernatural powers to predict results in this month’s football World Cup. Mark Anderson, of BirdLife South Africa, said he feared that belief in “muti” magic would accelerate the decline in rare Cape vultures. “Many vulture species across the world are in trouble. Our own species in southern Africa is declining sharply for a number of reasons, including reduced food availability, deliberate poisoning and electrocution from electricity pylons.

“The harvesting of the birds’ heads by followers of muti magic is an additional threat these birds can’t endure.”