Smoking Vulture Brains in South Africa


Part of VICE's Best of 2017. Check out Motherboard for more: Vultures are nature’s garbage collectors. They play an important ecological role in preventing the spread of disease and infection amongst African mammals. A sharp decline in some species of African vultures has lead to a crisis that could threaten the entire ecosystem. One of the main reasons for the decline is the illegal trade of poached vultures. Often, those body parts end up in the hands of sangomas, South African traditional healers. Some sangomas use vultures in a variety of ceremonies, one of which includes smoking powdered brains to communicate with their ancestors. In this episode of Symbiotic, Motherboard visited a muthi market in Johannesburg to see this ceremony firsthand and to hear from both sangomas and conservationists. Click here to subscribe to VICE: Check out our full video catalog: Videos, daily editorial and more: More videos from the VICE network: Like VICE on Facebook: Follow VICE on Twitter: Read our Tumblr: Follow us on Instagram: Check out our Pinterest: Download VICE on iOS: Download VICE on Android: