Vulture Research

Vulture Research

Corinne Kendall is a PhD student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University and an affiliate of the National Museums of Kenya. Corinne has been working on a variety of conservation research projects over the last five years, primarily in East Africa and in collaboration with The Peregrine Fund has just begun a study on vultures in Maasai Mara National Reserve with a focus on conservation issues.

Understanding the effects of human activities on the avian scavenger community in and around Maasai Mara National Reserve

Recent surveys done by The Peregrine Fund in and around Maasai Mara National Reserve have shown dramatic declines of all avian scavengers, most notably the vultures. 5 species of vulture have declined by nearly 50% in the area in the last thirty years and the Egyptian vulture appears to be locally extinct. The reasons for these declines remain unclear, although a variety of anthropogenic factors have been implicated. These include poisoning, disturbance, and habitat conversion leading to a reduction in food availability. Understanding the root causes of the declines will be essential if appropriate management actions are to be taken. I am currently undertaking a study to better understand the reasons for declines in avian scavengers and the effects of these declines on the avian scavenger community. My research includes raptor road transects in and outside the park (where I count the birds), behavioral observations at carcasses in several land use areas (which allow me to see where different species are foraging and how behavior is affected by land use and community structure), and the use of GSM-GPS tags to follow the movement of Ruppells, African white-backed, and Lappet-faced vultures.

You can help with vulture research too! The Peregrine Fund has been wing-tagging vultures to track their movements in East Africa, but we need your help. If you see a bird with a wing tag, please record the number, color of the tag, and location (description or GPS waypoint if possible) and send the information to tpf@africaonline.co.ke

For further information about vultures, you can go to www.peregrinefund.org or contact Corinne directly at ckendall@princeton.edu

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Vulture Research

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