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:4/19/2017)... York , April 19, 2017 ... as its vendor landscape is marked by the presence ... market is however held by five major players - ... Together these companies accounted for nearly 61% of the ... the leading companies in the global military biometrics market ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... 11, 2017 Crossmatch®, a globally-recognized leader ... today announced that it has been awarded a ... Activity (IARPA) to develop next-generation Presentation Attack Detection ... "Innovation has been a driving force within Crossmatch ... allow us to innovate and develop new technologies ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... , April 5, 2017  The Allen Institute ... Allen Cell Explorer: a one-of-a-kind portal and dynamic digital ... 3D imaging data, the first application of deep learning ... human stem cell lines and a growing suite of ... platform for these and future publicly available resources created ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2017)... USA, and CARDIFF, UK (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2017 , ... ... (LANL), and Brian Lula, president of Physik Instrumente USA, have been selected as this ... and photonics . , The two have been invited along with other honorees to ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... June 23, 2017 , ... ... flying hobbyists, and the University Aviation Association (UAA), the unifying voice for collegiate ... Collegiate Challenge will encourage teamwork, competition, and success through a STEM-based education platform. ...
(Date:6/22/2017)... Colorado (PRWEB) , ... June 21, 2017 , ... ... RTP regional office in North Carolina, and engages Timothy Reinhardt to manage the ... of quality leadership at Pfizer Inc, with his most recent role as the ...
(Date:6/22/2017)... ... June 22, 2017 , ... AESKU.GROUP, an innovation ... Systeme & Technologien GmbH, thereby expanding its product portfolio to include allergy and ... urticaria, asthma, atopic eczema or a food allergy. Allergies are escalating to epidemic ...
Breaking Biology Technology: