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Tracking Vultures

 

Fitted with PTT (Platform Transmitter Terminal) satellite trackers as nestlings at the end of 2018, a few - now fledged,  Lappet-faced Vultures have been sending back some extraordinary information.  Speeds of over 90 km/hour have been recorded and some birds have soared up to 2500 metres above ground level. 

 

The trackers are set to record their position every half-hour during daylight hours. Some data is shared on Vultures Namibia facebook page

 

Sponsored by various organisations including The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, Leder Stiftung fur den Tierschutz and DHL, the trackers are fitted using a light-weight harness which does not restrict wing movement. 

 

The information coming from these trackers is helping to better understand how and where these birds disperse from their natal site.  They remain around their nest for up to six months, at first taking short flights and progressively venturing further and further.  Map

 

Sometimes the birds do not survive - noted by a signal staying in one place for a long time. Bird L718 covered some large distances into Botswana and South Africa over the Kalahari Gemsbok trans-frontier park.  Then the signal stopped moving. Cause of death? It is assumed the bird had been poisoned, as is the unfortunate fate of so many vultures.