Egyptian vulture with transmitters - spies or victims

Satellite-tagged Egyptian vulture shot at Al Kuraynik, Darfur

Sudan is one of the major wintering areas for the Egyptian vultures of the Balkan population and the identification of the threats in the region is essential for the protection of the species.

Within the LIFE + project "Support for the Egyptian Vulture" and UNEP project "Сapacity Building to Support the Conservation of Migratory Egyptian Vultures from the Western Palearctic on their Wintering Grounds in Ethiopia, Sudan and Chad",  The Sudanese Wildlife Society (SWS) conducted a study of the Balkan population of Egyptian vultures along its habitat in the regions North Kordofan and EasternDarfur in Sudan. The terms of references were to report the concentrations of the Egyptian vultures, habitat types, land management, livestock numbers and types and potential threats.

The results of the study is more that shocking – birds have been killed because of the satellite transmitter they have. In Darfur, there is no control on the possession of firearms and almost everybody has a gun. Locals intentionally shoot "suspicious" birds and give the transmitters to the special services. According to the SWS two birds were found shot. Both of them were marked with rings and one had transmitter (according to colleagues in Israel, the bird with the transmitter was artificially bred in 2009).

The killing of tagged birds is not isolated incident. In 2010, Spartacus - the first Egyptian vulture marked with satellite transmitter by the BSPB, was shot in Chad. There is information about  Griffon vultures and storks killed in Sudan, as well as the globally threatened Great spotted eagle killed in Montenegro for the same reason!

The telemetry provides huge opportunities to explore the still unknown aspects of the ecology of the vultures. This knowledge is very valuable for conservation of the species. However, the transmitters in certain cases pose the bird to risk. This method should be used very carefully in Sudan and should be result of  deliberation and compromises in order to avoid exposure to unnecessary risk the globally threatened species like the Egyptian vulture.

This issue clearly demonstrates the need to work with the local authorities and services in Sudan.



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