Wednesday 12 December 2007


Scrawny necked, ugly birds of death,
feeders on carrion and rotting things.

Somewhere in Nepal,
they leave their dead for you,
on ice-cold mountainsides,
and watch you take the flesh,
the bones,
the heart,
the soul


An article in the current issue of the RSPB magazine Birds, prompted me to repost this poem. Three of southern Asia's vultures have declined by 99% since the early 1990s. Vultures play a vital role in ecosystems, clearing up carcases and preventing the spread of diseases that could be picked up from these carcases. This decline is due in large part to a drug, diclofenac, which is used to treat domestic cattle. Vultures are poisoned by this drug when they feed on the carcases of domestic animals. Work is going on to ban this drug and to breed vultures in captivity to release them back into the wild. If caught soon enough, poisoned vultures can be treated and can recover. For more information and how you can help please visit:
Vulture Rescue and the RSPB Vulture Campaign pages.

(Poem previously published in Envoi)


Skye Powers said...
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Crafty Green Poet said...
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Larry Kollar said...

Oh my. Have the vultures carried the two previous comments to heaven as well?

Here on Planet Georgia, we have several scavenger species dividing the work. Buzzards are the primary airborne cleanup crew, but the crows will help out as well. On the ground, we have opossums (which often end up feeding other scavengers as they don't do well avoiding cars). But the buzzards can sometimes be seen on sunny mornings, standing on fence posts, wings outspread in what looks like a bizarre sun-worship ritual.

Oh, and congrats on the Frosted Teasel! I missed that one when it came around.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Farfetched - LOL - I removed the two first comments as they had been put in when I first posted the poem and were out of date.

I love buzzards, we get a fair number of those here. Though ours are as much predators as scavengers.

Janice Thomson said...

Our crows, ravens, sea gulls and eagles do the garbage collecting here. In fact an eagle and sea gull were fighting over road-kill one time on a main stretch of highway. We saw them ahead of time and although we were not speeding we could not stop soon enough to avoid hitting the eagle who flew off the road and directly into the windshield - I was sick for days after about the death of such a magnificent bird whose territory I felt we had invaded.

Anonymous said...

We read that article in a magazine recently. I had no idea of the scope of the disaster. One thing that has happened, is that feral dog population had exploded and with it, cases of rabies. There is concern that this disease will spread to the rest of Asia and Europe.



polona said...

they are such an important part of the food chain and it's a pity their numbers are dropping by the scores.
a great effort is being put up in preservation of the griffon vulture on the island cres in croatia...

Bill said...

Your poem rises beautifully.

Anonymous said...

What an intriguing ceremony. One can really see its poetic potential. The way in which you have turned it into an uplifting image is quite admirable. Wonderful poem really.

Jo said...

Love this one.

Lea said...

Beautiful, beautiful poem. Thank you and thank you for bringing awareness to their plight and the hope of a remedy...