Time filter

Source Type

Hampshire, United Kingdom

Murn C.,Hawk Conservancy Trust andover | Murn C.,University of Reading | Mundy P.,National University of Science and Technology | Virani M.Z.,Ornithology Section | And 3 more authors.
Ecology and Evolution

The White-headed Vulture Trigonoceps occipitalis (WhV) is uncommon and largely restricted to protected areas across its range in sub-Saharan Africa. We used the World Database on Protected Areas to identify protected areas (PAs) likely to contain White-headed Vultures. Vulture occurrence on road transects in Southern, East, and West Africa was adjusted to nests per km2 using data from areas with known numbers of nests and corresponding road transect data. Nest density was used to calculate the number of WhV nests within identified PAs and from there extrapolated to estimate the global population. Across a fragmented range, 400 PAs are estimated to contain 1893 WhV nests. Eastern Africa is estimated to contain 721 nests, Central Africa 548 nests, Southern Africa 468 nests, and West Africa 156 nests. Including immature and nonbreeding birds, and accounting for data deficient PAs, the estimated global population is 5475 - 5493 birds. The identified distribution highlights are alarming: over 78% (n = 313) of identified PAs contain fewer than five nests. A further 17% (n = 68) of PAs contain 5 - 20 nests and 4% (n = 14) of identified PAs are estimated to contain >20 nests. Just 1% (n = 5) of PAs are estimated to contain >40 nests; none is located in West Africa. Whilst ranging behavior of WhVs is currently unknown, 35% of PAs large enough to hold >20 nests are isolated by more than 100 km from other PAs. Spatially discrete and unpredictable mortality events such as poisoning pose major threats to small localized vulture populations and will accelerate ongoing local extinctions. Apart from reducing the threat of poisoning events, conservation actions promoting linkages between protected areas should be pursued. Identifying potential areas for assisted re-establishment via translocation offers the potential to expand the range of this species and alleviate risk. © 2016 Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Source

CapsuleIndividual White-headed Vultures can be reliably identified by the pattern in their median wing coverts. AimsTo highlight the distinctiveness of the median wing covert pattern in White-headed Vultures and demonstrate the reliably high information content contained in this pattern. MethodsPhotographs of 30 wild White-headed Vultures were image-processed and overlaid with an analysis grid. An information theoretic approach was used to determine the probability of a specific median wing covert pattern recurring in the population. This probability determines the information content of each pattern. ResultsThe information content of median wing covert patterns is high (median content 23.54 bits) and the probability of pattern recurrence in a population of 10 000 birds is low (P=2.04103). The likelihood of the pattern changing over time is low. ConclusionsWhite-headed Vultures show variation in their median wing covert pattern that is sufficient for birds to be individually identifiable in the field. This non-invasive identification technique is reliable and is suitable for cataloguing local and regional populations of adult White-headed Vultures, thus facilitating mark-recapture studies or other studies that require identification of individuals. © 2012 Copyright British Trust for Ornithology. Source

Khan U.,WWF | Murn C.,Hawk Conservancy Trust andover
Journal of Animal and Plant Sciences

The population of the Gyps vultures has declined in South Asian region to 80- 95% in recent years. The primary cause of this rapid decline is attributed to the widespread use of a NSAID, Diclofenac in the livestock, however, other causes of vulture decline are habitat destruction, pesticides poisoning etc. In order to restore the population of Gyps vultures conservation centres have been established in South Asia. The primary aim of these centres is to hold safely a population of the species affected. Once the environment is safe for vultures, they can help in reintroductions or supplementations to the wild. In Pakistan such a centre has been established at Changa Manga for Gyps bengalensis. This centre is managed by WWF - Pakistan in partnership with the Punjab Wildlife and Parks Department, whilst technical and financial support of The Hawk Conservancy Trust, UK and keystone funding comes from the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, UAE. The Birds of Prey have many success stories of population restoration through captive breeding and reintroduction, some examples are California Condor Gymnogyps californianus, Mauritius Kestrel Falco punctatus, Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus and Griffon vulture Gyps fulvus. Techniques such as double clutching and hacking have been successful in increasing the breeding rate and improving reintroduction success. In Changa Manga a large communal aviary holds fifteen Gyps bengalensis. Sex determination has been done genetically and birds have been inserted microchipped and ringed for individual recognition. Within the aviary, potential breeding birds have access to artificial nest sites (shallow woven baskets, wooden baskets) and nests retrieved from the wild. A roosting/nesting ledge has also been developed for potential breeding pairs. Ungulates are kept alive for at least five days before they are slaughtered to be fed to the birds, this is done to ensure that had there been any Diclofenac injected is excreted out the system. Furthermore, breeding facility for rabbits has been developed and goats are also bred at the facility to maintain a variety in the diet and sustainability. The aviary at the Conservation Centre at Changa Manga has a capacity of approximately 30 vultures and four separate breeding aviaries have been developed already. These are arranged so that all the pairs are able to see each other that would help in synchronising breeding. The project faces the challenges of implementation of Diclofenac ban in veterinary practice, increase awareness to stop the use of human formulations in the veterinary practice and to increase the founder population of G. bengalensis in the conservation centre. Successful captive breeding and release programme has been internationally agreed as the most appropriate conservation intervention of the conservation of Asian Gyps vultures. Source

Monadjem A.,University of Swaziland | Botha A.,Birds of Prey Programme | Murn C.,Hawk Conservancy Trust andover
African Journal of Ecology

Old World vultures are in decline across their entire range. Although critical for the formulation of effective conservation measures, neither survival nor movement patterns of African vultures are adequately known. This paper presents survival and movement data on the African white-backed vultures (Gyps africanus) from South Africa. Survival estimates were modelled on resightings of tagged vultures. Birds were captured en masse and resighted between November 2005 and December 2010. A total of 93 adult and subadult birds were fitted with uniquely numbered patagial tags, which were resighted 3707 times(mean of 39.8 resightings per bird). The programme MARK was used to estimate survival. The best model was one where survival and recaptures varied only with time (e.g. year). However, owing to the fading (illegibility) of tags in later years, the relationship with time is probably spurious. The second best model was one where survival and recaptures varied with age and time. Annual survival estimates increased from 85.2% in second-year birds to 99.9% in adults. This corresponds well with the survival of two other Gyps vultures that have been studied to date and underscores the point that additional mortality of adults in these long-lived species will result in rapid population declines. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Source

Murn C.,Hawk Conservancy Trust andover | Murn C.,University of Reading | Saeed U.,WWF Pakistan | Khan U.,WWF Pakistan | Iqbal S.,WWF Pakistan
Bird Conservation International

The Critically Endangered Oriental White-backed Vulture Gyps bengalensis has declined across most of its range by over 95% since the mid-1990s. The primary cause of the decline and an ongoing threat is the ingestion by vultures of livestock carcasses containing residues of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, principally diclofenac. Recent surveys in Pakistan during 2010 and 2011 revealed very few vultures or nests, particularly of White-backed Vultures. From 2011 in the Tharparkar District of Sindh Province we monitored a colony of Oriental White-backed Vultures. Between 2011 and 2014 the number of active nests in this colony increased from 11 to 34 while nest density decreased from 13.7 to 9.2 nests km-2, suggesting that the colony is expanding. We conclude that the rate of increase is being subsidised by immigration, as the population demographics do not support the observed rate of increase in nests. We present the first analysis of spatial breeding dynamics for the Oriental White-backed Vulture and describe how a clustered pattern of nest trees in colonies supports a highly clustered pattern of nests. The spatial pattern of nests relies on both the distribution of trees and the ability of trees to support more than one nest. These results highlight that the preservation of larger nest trees and the sustainable management of timber resources are essential components for the conservation management of this species. We emphasise the high importance of this colony and a nearby Long-billed Vulture Gyps indicus colony in this area of Pakistan. Recommended conservation management actions include the continuation of a Vulture Safe Zone established in 2012, measuring breeding success, assessing dispersal and determining the impact of mortality on these populations. © 2014 BirdLife International. Source

Discover hidden collaborations