Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology

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Estimating population size of Saddle-billed Storks Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis in southern Kruger National Park, South Africa

Marcelle van den Hoven, Brian Reilly


Counting Saddle-billed Storks in a study area the size of the Kruger National Park, at 2.2 million ha, is difficult because the birds are long-lived, sparse in the landscape and have large home ranges. Aerial surveys conducted to date provide an estimate with no measure of data dispersion, thence precision. The aim of this study was to estimate the population size within associated confidence limits using a modified mark–recapture field method. The vehicle survey, conducted shortly after rainfall in the area, did not produce results with known precision under these conditions. A repeat of this census in spring, after the peak breeding season and when surface water is confined to the larger rivers and dams, should yield different results. A photographic census technique yielded sufficient information to construct a population registration database. Individual identification profiles indicate that there are at least 40 adult Saddle-billed Storks in the southern part of the Kruger National Park. This is considered the minimum number of known-to-be-alive individuals in this area. In this paper, the Cormack–Jolly–Seber mark–recapture model was used to return an estimate of the population size for each capture occasion.

Keywords: identification, modified mark–recapture, photographic survey, population estimate, Saddle-billed Storks

OSTRICH 2012, 83(3): 153–159

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