Assessing Movement Patterns for Threatened Vultures in East

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Assessing Movement Patterns for Threatened Vultures in East

Conservation Implications of

Vulture Movement Studies in

East Africa

Corinne Kendall Munir Z. Virani

Princeton University The Peregrine Fund

and National Museums of Kenya


What brought about the interest

in African vultures in Kenya?

Collapse of

Asian vulture

populations


Vultures provide vital ecosystem services


New World

Vultures

Types of

Vultures

Old World

Vultures

7 species 16 species


The problem


Spain loses 1000 vultures a year from wind farms


What can we learn from vulture

movement studies?

Mortality factors, locations, rates

Range size/Population range

Habitat use patterns


Vulture Movement in Masai

Mara

Focus on three species

Ruppell’s – social and cliffnesting

White-backed – social and

tree-nesting

Lappet-faced – solitary and

tree-nesting


Have you ever gotten a text

message from a vulture?

GSM-GPS transmitters

Where the bird is

Speed

Altitude of flight


Threats to Scavengers in East

Poisoning

Africa

Severe declines in wildlife throughout Kenya

Migratory ungulate populations appear stable

Vultures declining by 50% over last 30 years


Major Cause of Decline is

Poisoning

Most poisoning occurs outside

protected areas

Up to 25% annual mortality


Range Size

Species Home

Range (avg

km 2 )

Lappet-faced 22,000

White-backed 68,000

Ruppell’s 166,000

Use the

landscape at

different

scales


Habitat use patterns

High use areas

Monitoring

Protection

Ecological needs

Migratory Wildebeest

Differences between species

Extinction risk (protected areas)


Do Vultures Follow Migratory

Ungulates?

Migratory ungulates make predictable

annual movements

High density: 1.2 million wildebeest

Synchronous calving in February


Findings

Vultures only follow migratory wildebeest

in dry season (statistically significant)

– Monitoring efforts should concentrate in Masai

Mara during dry season


Where are the vulture?


Why dry season preference?

Higher mortality of wildebeest during this

period


Protected Areas are Important

Ratio of Real:Random for

Protected Area

1.2

1

0.8

0.6

0.4

0.2

0

Wet Wet to Dry Dry Dry to Wet

Ruppells

White-backed

Lappet-faced


Conclusions

Movement provides insights on:

Threats

Monitoring


Movement at a

continental scale

Future directions

Where are vulture

populations

Shape effective

monitoring efforts

Combination with

genetic techniques


………Thank you

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