Good South African vulture news

This video is about Cape vultures in South Africa.

From Wildlife Extra:

Boost for vulture conservation in South Africa

Giving vulture conservation wings in Limpopo

May 2013. The Endangered Wildlife Trust‘s Wildlife and Energy Programme (EWT-WEP), in partnership with Eskom Limpopo Operating Unit, the EWT’s Birds of Prey Programme (EWT-BoPP) and the Vulture Conservation Programme (VulPro), is proud to announce the launch of the Limpopo Vulture Project.

Tracking devices to be fitted

“The main aim of the project is to use Global System for Mobile (GSM) tracking devices to obtain further information about the movement patterns of the different vulture species in Limpopo. These data will enable Eskom to make informed and vulture-friendly decisions when new powerlines are planned and erected. The project will also look at the relationship between line faults on Eskom distribution lines and vulture movements, in an attempt to determine whether tracking data can be used to predict where line faults are likely to occur. This will enable Eskom to mitigate potential interactions pro-actively rather than reactively,” commented Constant Hoogstad, Senior Field Officer of the EWT-WEP.

Nine vulture species found in South Africa

Nine vulture species occur in South Africa. Seven of these are listed in the South African Red Data List, ranging from Threatened to Critically Endangered. These are: the Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus (considered regionally extinct), the Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus, the Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres, the Lappet-faced Vulture Torgos tracheliotus, the Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus, the White-headed Vulture Trigonoceps occipitalis, and the African White-backed Vulture Gyps africanus.

Limpopo Province – Vulture restaurant

The Limpopo Province falls within the distribution range of most of these species, with the exception of the Bearded Vulture. Furthermore, one of the most active vulture restaurants in the country can be found less than 20km from the centre of Polokwane on the Mockford farm. This vulture restaurant regularly attracts species such as the Cape, White-backed, Hooded and Lappet-faced Vultures and recent records of Palm-nut Vultures.

Threats to vultures

“Vultures are faced with a number of threats, including poisoning, persecution, electrocution, collision with power lines, drowning in farm reservoirs, food shortages, loss of suitable habitat and the muthi trade.

Power lines

A major conservation focus in Limpopo is on the interaction between vultures and power lines. Tourism is one of the three pillars of the Limpopo province’s economy, along with mining and agribusiness. The province is well known for the rich variety of bird species, including a majority of the vulture species found in South Africa, and this attracts a number of tourists to Limpopo. This is one of the reasons why it is so critical that these species be conserved and threats to their survival be removed,” continued Hoogstad.

25 vultures to be fitted with tracking devices

Two different prominent vulture restaurants have been identified as capture sites in the Limpopo Province where 25 vultures will be captured and fitted with GSM tracking devices. The first capture site is the Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre just outside Hoedspruit and the second site is Mockford Farms, just outside Polokwane. The tracking devices will allow us to investigate how vulture restaurants influence the movements of vultures. This will be done by analysing the movement of vultures over a one year period, and then moving the vulture restaurant from its current location, to a location that is a considerable distance away. The movement of the vultures will continue to be recorded to monitor for any changes.

If the vultures do change their movement patterns, the following aspects will be considered:

– How long does it take the vultures to adjust their behaviour as a result of the change of location of the vulture restaurant?
– Do they still move back to the old restaurant?
– Can moving a vulture restaurant change movement patterns in such a way that it can be used to minimise mortalities from wind farms and power lines?

Unfortunately, bad news too: Mass poisoning of vultures in KwaZulu-Natal.

12 thoughts on “Good South African vulture news

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