The Vulture Conservation Foundation’s staff and board members follow vulture research outputs very closely in order to inform current and future conservation strategies. Summaries of recent articles of interest will regularly be posted here for the interest of vulture conservationists, researchers and enthusiasts.
In this month’s research update we summarise articles on Egyptian vulture migration bottlenecks along the Eastern Flyway between Europe, the Middle East and Africa; the impacts of traffic on vulture feeding patterns in a natural park in Spain; and two articles that investigate the impacts of vultures feeding on human-derived waste at rubbish dumps in South America and Spain.
Identifying critical migratory bottlenecks and high-use areas for an endangered migratory soaring bird across three continents. Buechley et al. 2018. Journal of Avian Biology
The authors of this study used remote-tracking technology to study the migration routes of 45 individual Egyptian vultures over a total of 75 complete migrations that traversed three continents along the Red Sea Flyway. The vultures were trapped and fitted with satellite transmitters in the Balkans (Bulgaria, Greece, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Albania), the Middle East (Turkey and Armenia), and Africa (Ethiopia and Djibouti).
The vultures showed a high degree of individual variation in the duration (12 – 95 days) and distance (3,302 – 11,974 km) of their spring and autumn migrations, but the linear distance between start and end points was similar for immatures (3,289 km) and adults (3,332 km). Immatures, however, migrated less efficiently than adults, taking less direct routes and having to cover greater distances.
The most important migratory bottlenecks were located in the south-eastern Red Sea coast and the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Djibouti), the Suez Canal zone (Egypt), and the Gulf of Iskenderun (Turkey), as shown in the map below. Importantly, none of these areas were covered by protected areas and <13% of the high-use areas along the migration routes were protected. The authors provide clear guidelines to address these concerning gaps in the protected area network and conservation investment.