A literature review of occurrence of Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) resident in Africa
The Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus is a globally endangered species that is experiencing rapid population declines throughout most of its range. Conservation of Egyptian Vultures in Africa is globally important because it holds a resident population of 1 000 – 2 000 breeding pairs, harbours a significant but unknown number of Eurasian migrants during the boreal winter, and many non-adult Egyptian Vultures reared in Eurasia dwell in Africa until they mature. Africa comprises approximately half of the area of the global range of the species. Once considered common and widespread in many parts of Africa, Egyptian Vulture is now one of the vulture species that is most threatened with extinction. Egyptian Vulture is considered extinct as a breeding species in Southern Africa, and continuous population declines have been reported from most of its African range, resulting in a population reduction of perhaps 75%. Despite these declines, there is an apparent lack of systematic observations, and its current status in many African countries is unknown. Furthermore, little is known about the magnitude of the various threats and their impact on resident and wintering Egyptian Vultures. Data-deficiency hinders conservation efforts across the continent. We conducted an extensive review of published and unpublished information on the resident Egyptian Vulture populations in Africa, in an attempt to systemize the available knowledge of the species’ historic and current occurrence on a country-by country basis and identify the threats it faces. Information was found from 39 countries; no records of Egyptian Vultures were found in 16 other countries. In 12 countries where Egyptian Vultures have been observed, breeding has never been confirmed, and observations most likely refer to vagrants or wintering individuals. The Horn of Africa appears to be a relative stronghold, but there too, losses almost certainly have occurred. Poisoning, electrocution and direct killing for belief-based practices are considered the main mortality factors, and are hampering the species’ recovery. The review highlights the dire status of Egyptian Vultures in Africa, and calls for the urgent implementation of various large-scale conservation measures that will combat threats, secure the survival of the species on the continent, and make Africa safer for migrants coming from Eurasia.