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SA vultures under threat from brain-smoking gamblers

World Cup moron antics may lead to extinction

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Conservations have warned that the World Cup could finish off a rare South African vulture because locals believe smoking the beasts' brains will help them win big in footie-related bets.

Mark Anderson of BirdLife South Africa said in a statement that the Cape vultures were already in trouble, as a result of reduced food resources, poisoning and a tendency to come off worse in encounters with electricity pylons.

As if this wasn't bad enough, he said, believers in "muti" magic were harvesting the birds' heads for use in rituals which some locals believe would enable to predict results in this month's footy tournament.

With the World Cup dominating the media, and gambling, in South Africa, the temptation to gain an edge by imbibing the aroma of smouldering vulture brain will surely be irresistible.

The threat from muti believers could be enough to finish off the birds in some parts of the country within 50 years, the organisation warned.

The organisation has launched a campaign to persuade locals "you don't need brains" to predict World Cup results. Not vulture brains anyway. Though it's always possible some locals haven't read enough footie history to know not to bet on England winning on penalties.

Gambling, and associated brain-smoking techniques, is just the latest threat to vultures. In India the use of anti-inflammatory drugs in cattle is killing off the Asian vulture. ®

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