FACTORS DRIVING THE ABANDONMENT OF BEARDED VULTURE (GYPAETUS BARBATUS) BREEDING TERRITORIES IN SOUTHERN AFRICA
Sonja Krüger

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, uKhahlamba Regional Office, University of Cape Town, Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology

 

Abstract
Negative anthropogenic impacts associated with development are resulting in biodiversity losses throughout the world. The Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) in southern Africa is a case in point. The population has lost nearly 40% of its former distribution range and is now restricted to the Maluti-Drakensberg mountains. This significant range contraction over the past two and a half centuries has been attributed to land use change and associated anthropogenic factors. Recent studies have shown that the population’s breeding range and number of breeding territories has continued to decline over the past few decades and the population is projected to have a negative growth rate in the future. In this paper we determine whether anthropogenic impacts associated with development and land use change have resulted in the abandonment of territories and the recent decline of the Bearded Vulture in southern Africa. We aim to understand the factors responsible for territorial abandonment by using a comprehensive inventory of recent breeding territories and their current status to determine whether territorial abandonment is correlated with any key environmental variables. The primary environmental variables examined included those associated with land use, food availability and infrastructural development. Nest site variables were also examined to determine whether non-anthropogenic factors also influenced territorial abandonment. All variables were quantified within the main foraging area of each breeding pair and a Generalised Linear Model was used to determine which variables most influenced territorial occupancy and abandonment. Our results indicate whether increased human density and associated infrastructure are the driving forces behind the abandonment of breeding territories and the resultant decline in population growth. Conservation management needs to focus on actions that will limit development and human influence within the species’ breeding territories to achieve the short term objective of stabilizing the population decline.

 

Presentation Topic
FACTORS DRIVING THE ABANDONMENT OF BEARDED VULTURE (GYPAETUS BARBATUS) BREEDING TERRITORIES IN SOUTHERN AFRICA
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