High occurrence of extra-pair partnerships and homosexuality in a captive Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres colony
The Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres is an Endangered colonial cliff-nesting species that is typically cited as monogamous. Observations of wild Cape Vulture colonies note extra-pair breeding activities but homosexual activity has never been confirmed. Observations of breeding behaviours within a captive colony were conducted at VulPro’s breeding facilities in South Africa The captive breeding programme included 10 breeding pairs and a total of 41 non-releasable, individually recognisable, and genetically sexed subadults or adults. Observations were conducted over the 2014 breeding season as part of a study investigating the social and rearing conditions of chicks intended for release in a population supplementation programme. A high percentage of total colony copulation attempts (22%) were extra-pair copulations but only 23 interactions resulted in cloacal contact or possible sperm transfer. Four paired males formed extra-pair relationships, two of which were homosexual.
Keywords: Cape Vulture, homosexuality, extra-pair copulation, colonial breeding