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Landscape and environmental determinants as drivers for movement patterns of the Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres)

Foto: Christian Höfs

Vultures provide important but underappreciated services for human and livestock health. Despite this, the majority of vulture species are at risk of extinction, owing to a decrease in available carrion, inadvertent poisoning, electrocution on power lines and unsustainable land use changes. An understanding of general movement patterns of these highly mobile animals, particularly in terms of foraging flights on large spatial scales is indispensable for successful conservation measures. The Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres) is endemic to southern Africa and serves as a model species to identify large-scale movement patterns of large soaring scavengers. Using high-end tracking technology (www. e-obs.de), we try to answer the questions how (a) landscape and environmental determinants trigger movement decisions and behavior (b) movement behaviour differs between adult and juvenile birds. By revealing insights into the utilization of landscape structures, e.g. power lines, roost sites or artificial feeding sites, of adult and subadult birds, our results should guide management decisions for the protection of the endangered species.

PI: Dana Schabo, Sascha Rösner and Nina Farwig

Team: Theresa Spatz, Kim Lindner, Mike Neethling and Andy Ruffle

Cooperation partner: University of KwaZulu-Natal, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, VulPro, African Vultures, Endangered Wildlife Trust

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