Hawk Mountain launches study on Hooded Vultures in Africa

First field work in The Gambia a success

Posted on October 07, 2013 in Science

While North and South America has no apparent shortage of vultures, the same can not be said of the African continent. Here the outlook for this critical scavenger is bleak: Nine of 11 of the vulture species that occur there are near-threatened, vulnerable, endangered or critcally endangered, and numbers are fast disappearing in many regions.

Enter Hawk Mountain and its latest research on the endangered Hooded Vulture, a species that shows drastic declines in both East Africa and South Africa. Following a Pan African Summit on Vultures held last summer in Kenya, Hawk Mountain stepped up to take action, and will use field observations, telemetry readings, and surveys to establish the exact range of this species, its movement behaviors and other habitat needs. The findings will help to direct conservation efforts, and with luck, stop the steep decline and perhaps reverse the downward trend.

With funding from the Wallace Research Foundation and North Star Science and Technology, Hawk Mountain scientist Dr. Keith Bildstein, raptor specialists Dr. Marc Bechard of Boise State University and Dr. Corinne Kendall of Columbia University, and Gambian colleague Clive Barlow (co-author of the Birds of The Gambia and Senegal) successfully placed four satellite telemetry units and completed the first tracking surveys.

Following this work, two or more tracking devices will be placed on Hooded Vultures in Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa later this autumn, and combined, the data will begin to show us a snapshot of the birds' needs.

To learn more, read Keith's update from the field, or to help support this study, please contact him by email or phone: 570-943-3411 x108.