Assessment of the occurrence and threats to Hooded Vultures Necrosyrtes monachus in western Kenyan towns
The Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus is endemic to Africa and has recently been uplisted to Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Populations of Hooded Vulture in Kenya have declined significantly in recent decades and urban populations exist primarily in western Kenya towns where they typically forage at slaughterhouses and dumpsites. We surveyed seven western Kenyan towns and one neighbouring Ugandan market centre to assess the occurrence and threats to this species using opportunistic observations and interviews with employees at slaughterhouses and dumpsite facilities. We observed 23 Hooded Vultures, 20 in Bungoma Town and 3 in Busia-Uganda. Scavenging vultures were only observed at open-air slaughterhouses or dumpsites. We conducted 34 interviews at 14 facilities of which 23 interviews from six facilities were determined to be of good quality and used for subsequent analyses. At four of the facilities employees confirmed that Hooded Vulture numbers had declined and two respondents indicated declines had occurred from the year 2000 onwards. Possible reasons for declines mentioned by respondents were the introduction of closed-system of slaughterhouses, poisoning of stray dogs, cutting of roost trees, and increased competition for food. There was little evidence of exploitation of the birds for witchcraft or for food.