Ensure that raptor species survive for future generations to enjoy and benefit from intact ecosystem function and structure; and build local capacity for research and conservation to ensure sustainability of effort.
Biodiversity in Africa is a fundamental basis of the continent’s development, and underpins the well-being of current and future generations. For the great majority of Africans, biodiversity represents their only lifeline that can no longer be ignored. The reality is that biodiversity in Africa and its associated islands is threatened by the needs of the continent's human population that is rapidly increasing at an unsustainable growth rate. In addition, a bustling economy aimed at developing the continent’s infrastructure is sweeping across sub-Saharan Africa. If conservation is to be sustainable in Africa, it needs to expand from its historical approach of preservation in parks and reserves to one of humans appreciating and co-existing with wildlife.
Nearly one-third of the world's diurnal raptors and a quarter of the world’s owl species occur in Africa and its associated islands. Considerable research has been achieved on raptors in southern Africa, yet much remains to be done, particularly on the tropical forest-dwelling species. Virtually nothing is known about Palearctic migrant raptors and the importance of their winter ranges. Raptor species are being up listed on the IUCN Red Data List on an annual basis.
The African continent and its associated islands contain some of the most important and unique biological resources on our planet. The human population has grown from 100 million from the start of the 20th century to nearly 900 million today, and as demand for more land to cultivate increases, it is increasingly difficult for wildlife, particularly raptors, to survive. With 111 diurnal raptor species and 48 nocturnal owl species, our Pan Africa Project is an “umbrella” approach towards identifying priorities for raptor conservation across the continent and provides direction and communication to help ensure species survival. Our goal is to build local capacity for conservation of biodiversity by focusing on birds of prey and their ecological needs. We are achieving this goal by conducting scientifically sound ecological studies on birds of prey, providing hands-on training to students, and working with local communities and the general public to help increase their understanding about the need to conserve birds of prey and their habitats.
East Africa and Madagascar Projects — Results for East Africa and Madagascar Projects are described separately.
We provided financial support to our collaborator Rob Davies of Habitat INFO Ltd to build on the African Raptor Databank (ARDB), a citizen-science project that uses server GIS and smart-phone technology to ascertain the conservation status of raptors and their habitats across Africa, and to help build the local expertise needed to monitor these indicator species in the future and implement a sound strategy for their effective safeguarding. This is a citizen science project with two phases that involves building a raptor database over a period of five years (2013-2018) followed by distribution modeling of each species in relation to the availability of its habitat and production of a conservation atlas for African raptors. The ARDB has so far yielded 76,739 new records (and digitized 15,607 from the Snow Atlas) from 30 African countries and has substantially increased our understanding of the distribution of African raptors. We launched “African Raptor Observations,” an android-based app to help facilitate data collection from African citizen-scientists and this is contributing many records.
We provided Ph.D. student Thomas Hadjikryiakou of Cyprus with two 5g PTTs, which he attached on two adult female Eleonora’s Falcons. The birds’ migratory route was tracked from Cyprus across Israel, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique to their wintering grounds in Madagascar. This journey took them 22 and 44 days, respectively, and their wintering home range averaged 25,000 km2, increasing our knowledge for the easternmost breeding population of this Mediterranean species.
We provided Dr. Rob Simmons of the University of Cape Town (South Africa) with a 12.5g PTT, which he deployed on “Cade,” a male Black Harrier. This species is listed as globally vulnerable and Dr. Simmons’ study on Cade has revealed new information about their post-breeding movements. Black Harriers travel long-distances from their breeding grounds in the Karoo to their wintering grounds in the highlands of Kwazulu Natal. Following breeding successfully with the tag, Cade flew rapidly across the arid Karoo for over 1000 km to greener pastures in Kwazulu Natal for the winter months. Cade flew back to the Western Cape to prospect for breeding areas in mixed farmland and Fynbos. Our support to Dr. Simmons’ study has helped reveal a regular east-west migration of this endangered South African endemic.
Swaziland master’s student Machawe Maphlala has completed his first year of study and will commence his fieldwork on African White-backed Vultures. We published three scientific papers: one in Oryx on hunting pressure on large birds in the forests of West Africa, one in Gabar on raptors of the Dzangha-Sangha Reserve, Central African Republic, and the other in Vulture News about the ARDB facility.
The African Raptor Network list server and website (http://www.africanraptors.org), developed and maintained by The Peregrine Fund, has grown in popularity for African raptor biologists and enthusiasts as a platform to discuss and exchange ideas pertaining to African raptors. There are currently 172 members on the list server.
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