12/28/09 – Some superstitious South African gamblers intent on winning millions on the country's national lottery have apparently been indulging in a little ‘chemical' assistance that gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "what have you been smoking?"
Their belief that smoking dried vulture brains and other ancient ‘muti' (organic traditional medicines) has resulted in a depletion in the vulture population, reports the UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph.
"Wildlife experts have warned that vultures face extinction in South Africa amid a growing trend for smoking their dried brains in order to have a vision of winning lottery numbers," the newspaper reports this week.
Experts say that within 20 to 30 years the rare birds could be hunted to extinction for their use in "muti", or traditional medicine.
Rolled into a cigarette or inhaled as vapours, vulture brains can also help at the horse races, boost an exam performance, or lure more clients to a business, according to believers.
"We make the brain dry and mix it with mud and you smoke it like a cigarette or a stick. Then the vision comes," one distributor told the newspaper, going on to prescribe mainly vulture heads, which he says bring visions of the future, endowing users with the bird's excellent vision that helps them fly out of nowhere to descend on carrion.
Seven of the nine species of vulture are considered endangered.