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First data about movements and threats of Rüppell's Vultures (<i>Gyps rueppellii</i>) tagged in Morocco: an international and multi-institutional study.

Jose Rafael Garrido
Rachid El Khamlichi
Zouhair Amhaouch
Justo Martín
Juan Jose Iglesias-Lebrija
Ernesto Álvarez
Virginia Moraleda
Miguel Ferrer
Carlos Florencio
Iñigo Fajardo
Jose Ramón Benitez
Jesús Bautista
Helena Clavero
Catherine Numa


The Rüppell's Vulture (Gyps rueppelli) is listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ at the global and regional levels in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. A multi-institutional collaboration to fit 13 vultures with GPS transmitters in northern Morocco was launched to get information on their movements and threats along the flyway, both to the north and the south of the Sahara. Preliminary results from individuals released in November 2021 indicate a low survival rate during the wintering period in Morocco and on the return journey to the Sahel, which is usually attempted by Rüppell's Vultures with large groups of migratory birds, especially Griffon Vultures (Gyps fulvus). Of the group of tagged individuals, only four birds travelled definitely in a southwards direction, apparently migrating. Two of those have died, with one presumed to have starved in the Algerian desert, and another one presumed to have been killed by human persecution in The Gambia. A third individual was captured by local people in Mauritania and it is unknown what happened thereafter. One bird remains alive in Senegal at the time of writing. For the birds that did not disperse far after being fitted with transmitters, a relatively high number of fatalities seems to confirm that threats to the species are prevalent in Morocco: one bird died after being struck by a wind turbine; one was electrocuted by a power line; and two suffered from starvation and weakness. Birds remaining close to the release area fed mainly at a vulture feeding station or at rubbish dumps, which may indicate that there is a lack of food available in the wider surroundings. Five vultures originally fitted with transmitters are still alive in North Africa at the time of writing.

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eISSN: 1606-7479