Rare birds fitted with satellite navigation
Nine endangered Cape vulture fledglings at Potberg in the De Hoop Nature Reserve of the Western Cape, have been successfully fitted with satellite tracking devices as part of a long-term monitoring programme aimed at studying the birds foraging habits.
Anton Bredell, MEC for Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning says CapeNature provided support to VulPro, leaders in vulture rehabilitation and research, who successfully fitted the devices to the vultures.
“This work is not for the faint-hearted or inexperienced. It involves abseiling down an 80m high cliff to get to the vulture nests and judging whether the fledglings are big enough to carry the devices, but not so big that approaching them will cause them to leave their nests before they can fly.”
Potberg supports the only colony of this Endangered species in the Western Cape. The vultures forage over nearby farms and their survival depends on farmers being careful about the use of agrochemicals and leaving sheep carcasses in the field rather than burying them. The vultures provide a clean-up service, breaking down carcasses and recycling nutrients, thereby preventing the spread of disease. The new research is being done in order to determine the impact of new electricity infrastructure including wind turbines in the region.
Bredell says the latest study is part of research being done into the possible risk to these vultures who may be at risk of colliding with wind turbines and power lines in the region.
“Cape vultures soar over large areas in search of food. They are big and not very manoeuvrable flyers. They don’t have a wide field of view and have blind spots in the direction that they are flying. VulPro will provide vital information about where the vultures go to feed and whether measures need to be taken
to reduce the risk of collisions with wind energy infrastructure.”
CapeNature has previously identified 146 terrestrial and freshwater species and 218 marine species for surveillance and through the invaluable contributions of partner organizations, monitors and tracks population trends for the species which include species like the Riverine Rabbit, Leervis, Bontebok, Mico frog and Cape Mountain Zebra.
“We take conservation and the environment very seriously in the Western Cape and despite severe budgetary challenges we do what we can to ensure future generations will get to enjoy our natural heritage one day. I want to congratulate Vulpro and CapeNature on this latest operation, one we’re watching with keen interest.”
Spokesperson for the Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell
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