Congregations of wintering Egyptian Vultures Neophron percnopterus in Afar, Ethiopia: present status and implications for conservation
AbstractThe Endangered Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus congregates in communal roosts in the wintering areas and where food availability is high, where even a single threat might lead to substantial population declines. Thus, more research on the congregation sites is needed for timely detection of threats and effectively directed conservation measures. We studied bird numbers, use of roosting substrates and roosting habitat of wintering Egyptian Vultures in Ethiopia. Vultures were counted using the road-count technique in 2009, 2010 and 2013 along c. 600 km of roads in the Afar region. Over 1 000 individuals were counted each year and the sites with the highest congregations were identified. Nearly half of the birds were adults and the majority roosted on bird-safe types of electric pylons. Most of the Egyptian Vultures were found below 500 m above sea level, in bare areas, open savannas or grasslands, and their abundance was negatively related to the amount of cover of bush vegetation. The distribution of roosting birds was not affected by distance to human settlements. To avoid disasterous effects on the population of the Egyptian Vultures, we strongly recommend that the sites sheltering the highest numbers of roosting birds should be included in the Important Bird Area network, the use of poisons should be banned, and dangerous power lines should be insulated or substituted with safer types.
Keywords: Africa, declining population, endangered species, roosting, scavenger
OSTRICH 2014, 85(2): 139–145