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The Status of Raptors in Ethiopia by Anteneh Shimelis

February 7th, 2011 · Discussion Forum

Ethiopia is a land-locked country located in the horn of Africa. It is the second most populous nation in Africa with over 85.2 million people and the tenth largest by area. Seventy-two species of raptors inhabit the country of which 31 are migrants and 41 are residents.  These raptors inhabit a wide range of habitats including lowland Acacia savannah and woodlands, highland forests, and afro-alpine moorland habitats. A systematic national raptor survey has not been carried out to determine population numbers and at this scale the available information is very scant. This article attempts to estimate the population status for individual species and to calculate actual population sizes for some sites such as the Bale Mountains National Park, which is well-known to the author (Shimelis 2008). While information is generally unavailable, efforts have been made to show it as a gap and existing information is reported below. The available information regarding threats is scantier than the population status data and I relied mostly on many years of field notes to provide a sensible result that shows the threats that raptors of Ethiopia are facing today. Threats were quantified as the proportion of raptor species that either are affected or are potentially vulnerable.

Ruppell's Vulture in flight - Photo: Munir Virani

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A death trap for Egyptian Vultures in Africa – by Ivailo Angelov and Ibrahim Hashim

October 14th, 2010 · Threats to Raptors

A joint expedition between BSPB (Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds) and the Sudanese Wildlife Society (25.IX-5.X.2010) has found 17 electrocuted Egyptian Vultures. The main study area of the expedition was the Red Sea coast in North-Eastern Sudan.

Electrocuted Egyptian Vulture

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Amur Falcon migration route finally plotted

September 5th, 2010 · African Raptor News

Satellite Tagged Amur Falcon (Courtesy: B. Meyburg)

Bernd Meyburg and his team has presented the first ever satellite tracking data for Amur Falcons at two conferences, one in the East (Asian Raptor Research and Conservation Network conference, Mongolia) and one in South Africa (Birds of Prey Programme Conference, Kimberley). The information gathered on 7 tracked Amur Falcons most probably represents the most exciting satellite tracking data from raptors since the first long distance raptor migrants were tracked. The Amur Falcon has one of the longest raptor migrations, but is also unique because it supposedly flies a long distance over the sea. It was believed that they flew mostly over land during their return journey, but data from Bernd has shown that they fly a distance 2,500 to 3,100km over the sea in spring and do this by flying non-stop for between 2 and 3 days. Other interesting information presented include that there is quite a lot of movement between roosts in their wintering area, they have stop over points on their migration route back to the breeding grounds, and fly south of the Himalayas in northern India. They are also capable of covering huge amounts of distance in a few days and were able to travel up much of Africa in only a few days. They have now arrived in their breeding grounds and hopefully Prof Meyburg will be able to track their return route back to South Africa at the end of the year. One wonders if they will return to the same roost?

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Poisoning of Raptors in Ethiopia by Lakew Berhanu

June 28th, 2010 · Threats to Raptors

Tawny Eagle (photo Munir Virani)

Ethiopia is known for its endemism both fauna and flora. Among others, raptors are an important part of our biodiversity: Culturally, economically as well as socially. Recent research conducted informs us that vulture populations in Africa are on the decline and may be on the verge of collapse in the next half century unless we make efforts to save them. Like many other biodiversity resources, they [raptors] are under increasing threat from poisoning, habitat fragmentation, habitat loss, lack of food, poachers and careless farmers.

Globally, the death through poisoning of raptors/vultures, is increasingly becoming cause for alarm. Like many other countries, Ethiopia is known for harboring a variety of [Read more →]

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Another Vulture “bites the dust” by Corinne Kendall

June 28th, 2010 · Threats to Raptors

Wilson Masek and a colleague about to release Lolly (photo Corinne Kendall)

Catching a Lappet-faced vulture is always a struggle. At a typical large carcass you often find that these red-headed birds are outnumbered by their smaller white-backed cousins, sometimes with a single Lappet-faced vulture trying to fight for a scrap of wildebeest meat with over fifty African white-backed vultures. This makes capturing one a rare event. You can improve your odds by focusing on small carcasses or by putting the trap near the head of the carcass (a favorite area for these strong, large beaked scavengers), but even then you just have to get lucky.

On April 25, I got lucky. We managed to trap a beautiful adult Lappet-faced vulture and named her Lolly. As we attached the GSM-GPS transmitter, which would allow us to follow the bird for the next year, I couldn’t help but run my [Read more →]

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Vulture surveys in Ethiopia – A summary by Yilma D. Abebe

May 12th, 2010 · Raptor Research

A survey of Ethiopian vultures, which lasted for eleven days, was carried out from 28th January to 7th February 2010. The area covered encompassed a maximum radius of 200 km around the Capital, Addis Ababa. Road counts were used to count flying as well as perched vultures. Roost counts were performed only if they were on the transect. All birds of prey were recorded on this survey. [Read more →]

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Vulture Workshop in the Masai Mara National Reserve – by Munir Virani

May 11th, 2010 · African Raptor News

It was quite a frantic week planning ahead for the 3rd Vulture Workshop (the second in the Masai Mara) funded by The Peregrine Fund, which took place at Basecamp Explorer in the heart of the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. The Basecamp Foundation and the Explorer Camp were extremely generous to provide subsidized accommodation while Vintage Africa provided a vehicle for participants attending from Nairobi (National Museums of Kenya, Kenya Wildlife Service, and Nature Kenya’s Raptor Working Group) and neighboring Masai villages. The Masai Mara National Reserve provided free entry to workshop participants. [Read more →]

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Conservation of the Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus meridionalis. By Sonja Krüger

April 19th, 2010 · Raptor Research


A Young Bearded Vulture at Dawn

The Bearded Vulture is listed as endangered in the Southern African Red Data Book due to its small and declining population size, restricted range, range contraction, and the susceptibility to several threats in Lesotho and South Africa (BirdLife, 2004).  Its red data status and the lack of data on current population size lead to a monitoring programme being implemented in 2000 by Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife to determine the number of breeding pairs in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. [Read more →]

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New insights on “ecological barriers” in the migration pattern of the Eleonora’s Falcon

March 12th, 2010 · Raptor Research

Am Eleonora's falcon just before release (Photo Courtesy: Ugo Mellone)

We examined the connection between  landscape characteristics and behaviour of a long-distance migratory raptor, the Eleonora’s falcon. Our main goal was to test whether long-distance migratory birds adjust their migration programme according to the different characteristics of the habitats crossed during the journey with special emphasis in the so-called ‘‘ecological barriers’’, inhospitable environments where the opportunities to fulfil energy requirements are low or absent and environmental factors could be extremely severe. To this end, 11  Eleonora’s falcons were tracked by satellite telemetry in [Read more →]

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Ecological implications of vulture extinction on scavengers and disease transmission Darcy Ogada

February 27th, 2010 · Raptor Research

Vultures at a carcass

Reports of vulture declines have been numerous over the past decade.  From southeast Asia to West Africa, vultures are declining at alarming rates, making them the most threatened functional group of birds.  Due to their huge ranges, even relatively pristine areas in Kenya have seen large declines in vulture numbers.

Scavengers, especially vultures, provide one of the most important yet under-appreciated ecosystem services of any avian group.  Because they feed by scavenging, vultures are highly specialized to rapidly dispose of large carcasses, thus playing a critical role in nutrient cycling, leading other scavengers to carcasses and reducing the risk of contamination by pathogens by quickly consuming decomposing carcasses.  Despite the rate at which vultures are declining, little is known about the potential consequences of the widespread disappearance of these scavenging birds on other scavengers and rates of disease transmission at carcasses. [Read more →]

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