It’s a tiny organ that, the superstition goes, holds the secrets of the future. When smoked and inhaled, the brain of a vulture is said to confer the gift of premonition. To put it bluntly, most users hope to sneak a look at next week’s national lottery numbers.
Such is the demand for vulture brains to use in muti – traditional medicine – that wildlife experts fear the birds could be driven to extinction within two or three decades. They also warn that hunting could intensify as gamblers seek an advantage when betting on the football World Cup in South Africa.
Vultures’ acute vision, and ability to find prey, has kindled a belief that they possess clairvoyant powers. Their brains are dried and rolled into a cigarette or inhaled as vapours in the hope they will bring a vision of the future – including lottery numbers and sports results.