Tuesday, May 28, 2013
BirdLife Botswana, in conjunction with the CKGR Research Group and the Denver Zoological Foundation, recently deployed satellite tracking devices on a pair of adult White-headed Vultures in Khutse Game Reserve. These are the first birds of this species to be fitted with satellite transmitters to determine their movements. The White-headed Vulture is classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red Data List, but has been little studied and remains an enigmatic species. The White-headed Vulture research is part of a wider ranging Botswana vulture project aimed at providing a sound scientific base for their conservation. The five major Botswana vulture species are all globally threatened, and are nationally regarded as Birds of Conservation Concern. The White-headed Vultures were captured using a compressed-air powered cannon net, activated remotely from a concealed hide; this technique has been used by the team to catch relatively large numbers of Lappet-faced and White-backed vultures as well. The vultures were measured and weighed, and also fitted with unique numbered wing tags to aid future identification, before being released. Although it is early days yet, it is interesting to note that the pair has temporarily split up, with the male moving a few hundred kilometers northwards into the Central Kalahari Game Reserve; the female has remained in the vicinity of the capture site at Molose Pan in Khutse. Dr Richard Reading prepares to release the male (Photo: Pete Hancock). We would like to thank the Department of Wildlife and National Parks for their unstinting support of the project, and Kanabo Conservation Link for providing additional funding to facilitate the capture of the birds.