Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus and African White-backed Vulture Gyps africanus nesting at the Olifants River Private Nature Reserve, Limpopo province, South Africa
Basic ecological information is still lacking for many species of African vultures. The Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus is known as a rare breeding resident in north-eastern South Africa. This study set out to monitor the nests of Hooded Vultures and, secondarily, White-backed Vultures Gyps africanus in the Olifants River Private Nature Reserve over two breeding seasons in 2013 and 2014. A total of 12 Hooded Vulture nests, placed mostly in the tree Diospyros mespiliformis, were found along the Olifants River, with an average internest distance of 0.76 km. Nest success was estimated to be between 0.44–0.89 offspring pair−1 y−1 in 2013 and 0.50–0.67 offspring pair−1 y−1 in 2014, which are the first estimates for Hooded Vultures in South Africa. It is thought that nests of this species have been under-reported due to the fact that they are placed within or below the canopy of densely leafed trees and hence difficult to view from aerial surveys. African White-backed Vultures also bred along the Olifants River, with nests placed in clusters of up to six. Nesting density of this species ranged from about 1.0 to 1.2 nests km−1 and nests were predominantly placed in Ficus sycomorus trees.
Keywords: Hooded Vulture, nesting ecology, South Africa