Navigation Links
Vultures foraging far and wide face a poisonous future
Date:1/31/2013

A first ever study of the range and habits of white-backed vultures across southern Africa shows that they often shun national parks, preferring to forage further afield on private farmland.

This behaviour and their tendency to scavenge in groups, means that vultures risk encountering dead cattle that have been administered veterinary drugs that are poisonous to them, or even poisoned carcasses intended to control other carnivores such as jackals.

The research, using Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite transmitters to track the movements of adolescent vultures, is published in the journal PLOS ONE.

The white-backed vulture is a widespread but declining species in Africa and it is now listed as endangered. In India, several vulture species are on the verge of extinction due to accidental poisoning from cattle carcasses that contain anti-inflammatory drugs administered by farmers. These drugs are non-lethal to cattle yet fatal to vultures. There is a concern that these drugs could become more widely used in Africa.

Vultures prefer to feed in savannah grassland habitats and away from other competing carnivores, such as lions, and the new study shows that the birds will go to considerable lengths to find food, crossing multiple state boundaries, with each bird on average ranging across an area twice the size of England.

Co-lead author, Dr Stephen Willis, School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Durham University, said: "We found that young vultures travel much further than we ever imagined to find food, sometimes moving more than 220 kilometres a day. Individuals moved through up to five countries over a period of 200 days, emphasising the need for conservation collaboration among countries to protect this species."

"In South Africa, the vultures avoided the national parks that have been established to conserve wildlife. As a result, these parks are unlikely to protect such a wide-ranging species against threats in the wider landscape.

"The vultures may actively avoid parks with numerous large mammal predators due to competition for food, and find easier pickings on cattle carcasses in farmland outside these protected areas.

"We found evidence that individual birds were attracted to 'vulture restaurants' where carrion is regularly put out as an extra source of food for vultures and where tourists can see the birds up close. As a result, these individuals reduced their ranging behaviour. Such 'restaurants' could be used in future to attract vultures to areas away from sites where they are at high risk of poisoning."

The team tracked six immature African white-backed vultures (Gyps africanus): five for 200 days, and one for 101 days) across southern Africa using GPS tracking units which were carefully strapped to the birds' backs.

Kerri Wolter, Chief Executive Officer, Vulture Programme (VulPro) said: "Vultures are facing significant threats globally with poisoning being one of the major threats in various forms, such as exposure to veterinary drugs and the irresponsible use of poisons.

"In the past, we believed that protecting nature reserves and conservancies was the way to go but tracking devices show that vultures are spending very little time in protected areas, and this makes conserving these birds much more difficult. Given the distances that vultures forage, we cannot conserve these birds 'in-country' but have to work together with conservation organisations, governments and neighbouring countries to safeguard vulture species across the globe."

Co-lead author, Louis Phipps, who recently graduated from the University of Pretoria, said: "Modern farming practices mean that vultures face an increasing risk of fatal poisoning. The provision of an uncontaminated supply of food, research into veterinary practices, and education for farmers could all be part of a future solution, if vulture numbers continue to plummet."


'/>"/>

Contact: Carl Stiansen
c.r.stiansen@durham.ac.uk
44-019-133-46077
Durham University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Southern elephant seals likely detect prey bioluminescence for foraging
2. Music with dinner: Whales sing during foraging season, not just while breeding
3. Whales foraging strategies revealed by new technology
4. Monkeys stressed from longer foraging times
5. The future of plant science - a technology perspective
6. The future of plant science a technology perspective
7. Is seaweed the future of biofuel?
8. Algae biofuels: the wave of the future
9. Researchers identify Achilles heel of dengue virus, target for future vaccines
10. Desert to Rainforest global classroom links future teachers, classrooms in Phoenix and Panama
11. New technologies for a blue future
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/11/2017)... Research and Markets has announced the addition of the ... ... to grow at a CAGR of 30.37% during the period 2017-2021. ... been prepared based on an in-depth market analysis with inputs from ... prospects over the coming years. The report also includes a discussion ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... SEATTLE , April 5, 2017  The Allen ... the Allen Cell Explorer: a one-of-a-kind portal and dynamic ... large-scale 3D imaging data, the first application of deep ... edited human stem cell lines and a growing suite ... the platform for these and future publicly available resources ...
(Date:4/3/2017)...  Data captured by IsoCode, IsoPlexis Corporation,s ... statistically significant association between the potency of ... objective response of cancer patients post-treatment. The ... cancer patients will respond to CAR-T cell ... to improve both pre-infusion potency testing and cell ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/20/2017)... , April 20, 2017 Dutch philosopher Koert van Mensvoort ... Nature, at the University of Technology in Eindhoven - has written a ... letter, he calls on humanity to avoid becoming a slave and victim to ... ... Dutch philosopher Koert van Mensvoort – founder of the Next ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... ... 18, 2017 , ... The Vibrating Orifice Aerosol Generator (VOAG) ... monodisperse droplets of known diameters for research applications such as for calibrating droplet ... drying monodisperse droplets. , The VOAG requires forcing liquid out of an ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... ... April 18, 2017 , ... ... Labs . The move comes after the company changed focus to making analytical ... new brand and our new technology,” says CEO Robert Hart. Founders Bernardo Cordovez, ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... April 19, 2017 , ... ... Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections through education and advocacy. Founded in 2010 ... to a C. diff infection, the foundation has become the most-consulted source for ...
Breaking Biology Technology: