Two suspects appeared in court in February on suspicion of poisoning at least 72 vultures in the Kruger National Park. The suspects, Sibusiso Mahole and Colani Maluka, have been released on bail of R1200 each and are to appear in court on April 5, 2006. In October last year, rangers found a buffalo carcass in the Stolsnek area and immediately suspected foul play when they discovered 72 dead vultures in the area immediately surrounding it.
The toxicological investigations on the birds confirmed that an organophosphate-based poison was placed on the buffalo carcass to kill the vultures. The Sanparks corporate investigation services (CIS) were called in to investigate and identified two suspects who evaded the CIS team for some time. Eventually, the two men returned to the Makoko area where they were arrested on February 6, 2006.
According to Inspector Kobus Nel of the Skukuza Police, vultures are sought after by the muti-trade and the police are aware of six of the particular birds that were sold for that purpose. The vulture poisoning in Kruger came close on the heels of the death of 27 vultures in another unrelated wildlife poisoning event near Hoedspruit, which was described at the time as the largest known vulture poisoning event in the last four years.