Vulture (Accipitridae) poisonings are a concern in South Africa, with hundreds of birds dying annually. Although some of these poisonings are accidental, there has been an increase in the number of intentional baiting of poached rhinoceros (Rhinocerotidae) and elephant (Elephantidae) carcasses to kill vultures that alert officials to poaching sites by circling overhead. The primary chemicals implicated are the organophosphorous and carbamate compounds. Although most poisoning events can be identified by dead vultures surrounding the scavenged carcass, weak birds are occasionally found and brought to rehabilitation centers for treatment. The treating veterinarian needs to make an informed decision on the cause of illness or poisoning prior to treatment. We established the reference interval for serum and plasma cholinesterase activity in the Cape Griffon Vulture (Gyps coprotheres) as 591.58–1,528.26 U/L, providing a clinical assay for determining potential exposure to cholinesterase-depressing pesticides. Both manual and automated samplers were used with the butyrylthiocholine method. Species reference intervals for both serum and plasma cholinesterase showed good correlation and manual and automated measurements yielded similar results.
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Vol. 52 • No. 2