Special Issue on Vultures

Posted 18 August 2017 by NISC under Announcements & Notices • Journal: Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology
Special Issue on Vultures

Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology, Volume 88, Issue 2, 2017 is a Special Issue on Vultures, dedicated to the memory of the legendary ornithologist, André Boshoff (1945-2016). 

This special issue was inspired by presentations at the pan-African ornithological conference (PAOC-14) held in Dakar, Senegal, 2016.

Compiled with the assistance of Campbell Murn (Hawk Conservancy) and Darcy Ogada (Peregrine Fund), the issue is  introduced with a Guest Editorial titled, “Decline of African vultures: a need for studies and conservation” in which Jean-Marc Thiollay highlights the importance of the research papers included in this special issue. 

Thiollay states that Africa is the continent of vultures (Accipitridae): up to 10 species, from deserts to wetlands, savannas, mountains and towns, including the atypical forest-associated Palm-nut Vulture Gypohierax angolensis. 

Their scavenging adaptions allow them to consume meat, bones and skins of wild as well as domestic animals of any size, but also faeces, garbage, and even a few living animals. They are key components of food chains and for centuries were essential cleaning agents of African villages and towns. “Given their feeding habits, size and easy association with man, they were supposed to be less sensitive than other species to losses of biodiversity and natural habitats, also even to poisons and hunting pressure. Yet they are today among the most threatened taxa in Africa. So, what happened?”

Thiollay’s Guest Editorial, which examines this further, can be read at no charge until 30 September 2017 here.

Until recently, few people performed systematic roadside counts, let alone precisely recorded the superabundant Hooded Vultures in Western African towns. The recent decline of Hooded Vultures in other parts of Africa, mainly Eastern Africa, has been the reason in 2015 for up-listing of its status by the IUCN in the Rest List of Threatened Species to Critically Endangered. This is further examined in the paper, “The decline of an urban Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus population in Dakar, Senegal, over 50 years” which can be read at no cost until 30 September 2017 here.

Recent research has shown that anthropogenic influences are driving the abandonment of breeding territories in the declining southern African Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus meridionalis population. Survival rates appear to be low (86% for adults) due to poisoning and collisions with powerlines, which are the primary causes of death from tracked birds. However, there is no information published on the population’s current productivity levels, and whether this may be a contributing factor in the declines of this population. This is explored in the research paper, Productivity of the declining Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus population in southern Africa, which can be read at no cost until 30 September 2017 here.

Read more about Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology, here

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