Vulture Tagging – First Ever GPS harnesses Fitted in Zululand
Vulture tagging in 2011 saw 6 White-backed Vultures, 3 Lappet-faced Vultures and 1 White-headed Vulture tagged as part of the annual project organised by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the Endangered Wildlife Trust Birds of Prey Working Group. This year the Wildlife ACT Fund received funding for 3 vulture GPS harnesses, which enable us to follow their exact movements from their nests via satellite, allowing us to keep track of dispersal movements and mortality rates of these endangered birds.
It is estimated that the Zululand White-backed Vulture population will probably be extinct within the next 12 years and two other species (the Lappet-faced Vulture and White-headed Vulture) will be gone from Zululand within 5 years, if nothing is done to save them. Vulture tagging is one step towards preventing this from ever happening.
These GPS harnesses are the first ever fitted to vultures in Zululand.
Apart from vulture tagging, one of the vulture conservation goals is to fine-scale vulture movement patterns of the various species breeding in the province by deploying GPS units to both adults and fledglings. We are hoping to identify trends based on these movements to help conservation management better protect these endangered birds.