By Kristin M. Rosamond and Nico Arcella

Protected lands provide a last stand for critically endangered vultures in West Africa.

White-headed vulture in Mole National Park, Ghana. Credit: Grzegorz Walczak

between Fastest Declining Birds Globally, African vultures struggle with many of the problems that commonly plague wildlife today, such as habitat loss, poaching, and poisoning, but they also face a more unique set of obstacles.

Vultures and other raptors are often territorially persecuted in Africa. “Fetish” market where they are sold for ceremonial use. For example, in West Africa, many people pay for vulture carcasses, heads, and eggs that are used in rituals believed to bring protection from evil, success in business, or Provides benefits such as increased intelligence.

Public impressions of All cultures vary widely, with some viewing these birds as supernaturally powerful and assertive and others as bad omens and harbingers of death. In Ghana, donkeys are generally considered unclean and unclean, being associated with bad luck and witchcraft.

Due to such threats, these birds are highly vulnerable to extinction, with many threatened species surviving primarily, or only, in protected areas. However, as vultures feed on carrion, they play an important role in waste removal, nutrient cycling, and disease prevention, providing important services to keep ecosystems healthy.

Given how little appreciation they receive for the services they provide, vultures are in desperate need of some positive press to encourage their conservation. To contribute to their conservation in Ghana, we conducted a survey. Mole National Park Critically estimating population sizes of three : the hooded vulture (Necrocyrus monachus), the white-backed vulture (Gips africanus), and the white-headed vulture (Trigonocypus occipitalus). We also identified vulture nests and recorded vulture nesting activity as well as their distance to human settlements and roads.

Here is the research. published I Journal of Raptor Research.

Population size was relatively small, with an estimated 29–36 griffon vultures, 25–73 white-backed vultures, and only three to four white-headed vultures in the surveyed area. Our results Contains first records and descriptions of nests for all three studied species in Mole National Park and Ghana as a whole.

  • Protected lands provide a last stand for critically endangered vultures in West Africa.

    White-backed vulture. Credit: Nico Arcella

  • Protected lands provide a last stand for critically endangered vultures in West Africa.

    The hooded vulture. Credit: Nico Arcella

The findings also support the idea that hooded vultures are more accustomed to human presence than other species, as their nests in molehills are located closer to human settlements than white-backed vultures.

In addition to the three vulture species that were the focus of our survey, we identified several other globally threatened raptors in Mull National Park. These included the Marshall Eagle (Polemaetus belicosus) and the Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus), which are both listed. IUCN Endangered, and Beaudouin’s Snake-Eagle (Circaetus beaudouini) and Tawny Eagle (Aquila rapax), both of which are threatened with extinction.

Bateleurs appear to be breeding in the surrounding area, as indicated by the presence of many immature birds congregating with the adults.

While these results are encouraging, there is also cause for concern. Marshall Eagles were previously known to nest in the area but no occupied nests have been identified in recent years and we have only had two sightings of this species, which is highly sought after in the wildlife trade. , underlines the urgency of strengthening conservation measures in the region. .

  • Protected lands provide a last stand for critically endangered vultures in West Africa.

    White-backed vulture’s nest. Credit: Grzegorz Walczak

  • Protected lands provide a last stand for critically endangered vultures in West Africa.

    Marshall Eagle. Credit: Nico Arcella

While staff and rangers in areas like Mule National Park go a long way to protect wildlife, the plight of these ecologically important but stigmatized species needs to be addressed. More attention.

Many recommended Should be at the local level. For example, reducing poaching, preventing the killing of vultures for the wildlife trade, and protecting vulture habitat and will be critical to the survival of critically endangered vultures in Ghana and West Africa.

However, international cooperation and education are also needed to combat the declining trends of vultures. People can become vulture advocates by spreading the word, getting involved in research or supporting it. Conservation effortsand visiting areas such as Mull National Park, which creates incentives for conservation through revenue for protected lands.

We hope so Our research It will provide a baseline to monitor vulture population progress and encourage support. which provides the last place for donkeys in West Africa.

This is part of the story. Science X Dialoguewhere researchers can report results from their published research articles. Visit this page. For information about the ScienceX dialogue and how to participate.

More information:
Sandra Gooded et al., Abundance and breeding ecology of critically endangered vultures in Mole National Park, Ghana. Journal of Raptor Research (2023). DOI: 10.3356/JRR-22-54

Kristin Rosamond, MS, is a PhD student at the University of Missouri-St. Lewis and research associate at the International Bird Conservation Partnership (IBCP). Nico Arcella, PhD, is director of the IBCP, whose mission is to promote and support research, outreach, and partnerships to advance bird conservation worldwide, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I am an Adjunct Fellow.

Reference: Protected lands provide last stand for critically endangered vultures in West Africa (2024, February 23) Accessed 23 February 2024 at https://phys.org/news/2024-02-critically-endangered-vultures-west- Retrieved from africa.html

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