Nesting status of African White-backed Vultures Gyps africanus in the Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

  • Munir Virani
  • Paul Kirui
  • Ara Monadjem
  • Simon Thomsett
  • Mwangi Githiru

Abstract

Vulture populations have declined globally as well as regionally within Africa. Little is known about the status of the African White-backed Vulture Gyps africanus in Kenya, but ongoing studies indicate that its population has declined over the last two decades. A total of 32 African  White-backed Vulture nests were monitored in the Masai Mara National Reserve over a five-year period between 2003 and 2007. Mean nesting  success was 59%, which is comparable to that of populations from southern Africa. Nearest neighbour distances were significantly closer in  wooded habitats (‘trees and shrubs savanna’) than in more open grassland habitats (‘open low shrubs’). Based on nearest neighbour distances, the estimated total breeding population within the Masai Mara National Reserve is 1 106 pairs, a figure that may be an overestimate and requires groundtruthing. Collecting baseline data on numbers of breeding pairs and regular nest monitoring are essential in order to  assess the impact of various threats to vultures in Kenya, which include  growing threats (elephant-mediated habitat disturbance and fire) as well as emerging threats (such as poisoning with the carbamate-based pesticide Furadan™).

OSTRICH 2010, 81(3): 205–209

Author Biographies

Munir Virani
The Peregrine Fund, 5668 West Flying Hawk Lane, Boise, Idaho 83709, USA;  Ornithology Section, Department of Zoology, National Museums of Kenya, PO Box 40658-00100, Nairobi, Kenya
Paul Kirui
Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association, PO Box 24397-00502, Nairobi, Kenya
Ara Monadjem
All Out Africa Research Unit, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Swaziland, Private Bag 4, Kwaluseni, Swaziland
Simon Thomsett
Ornithology Section, Department of Zoology, National Museums of Kenya, PO Box 40658-00100, Nairobi, Kenya
Mwangi Githiru
Ornithology Section, Department of Zoology, National Museums of Kenya, PO Box 40658-00100, Nairobi, Kenya
Section
Articles

Journal Identifiers


eISSN: 1727-947X
print ISSN: 0030-6525