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. Africa’s trade with China has topped the $100 billion mark. 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. Raptors, as far ranging, easily seen predators, epitomize the kinds of wildlife that will benefit from a new "living with wildlife" conservation ethic ‒ they are excellent "flagship species."
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 learned about species in eastern, central, and western Africa, particularly 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. For example, seven of the nine vulture species occurring in Africa are listed as Red Data with four classified as endangered. There is a greater need to monitor raptors along a gradient of the changing African landscape.
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 a second year of financial support to our partner Rob Davies of Habitat INFO for an ESRI Sever license to develop and launch the African Raptor Data Bank Project (ARDB). This project aims 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 and implement a sound strategy for their safeguarding.
This project will be completed in two phases. The first phase involves building a database over a period of five years (2013–2018). Data will be collected using smartphone technology that will be uploaded directly onto the Habitat INFO server. The second phase involves distribution modeling of each species in relation to the availability of its habitat and production of a conservation atlas for African raptors, online and hard copy. The project is managed by habitat INFO and co-funded by The Peregrine Fund, which act as the regional coordinators for East Africa (along with National Museums of Kenya). The Bird of Prey Working Group (Endangered Wildlife Trust, South Africa) acts as the regional coordinator for southern Africa, while the West African region is coordinated by Ralph Buij (Centre for Environment and Development Studies, Cameroon) and Joost Brouwer (NiBDab). The North African coordinator is Hichem Azazaf (Birdlife Tunisia). We are exploring Data exchange mechanisms with the following similar recording programs: South African Bird atlas, Tanzanian Bird Atlas, G-bird, iSPOT. By September 2013, nearly 55,000 raptor records were uploaded on the server.
We provided financial support to Professor Ara Monadjem of the University of Swaziland to assist in identifying and training a Swazi student as the country’s first local raptor biologist. Machawe Maphalala has commenced his coursework leading to a master’s degree and will commence fieldwork in the summer of 2014. We provided two 5-g PTT transmitters to Ph.D. candidate Thomas Hadjikyriakou towards his study of Eleonoras’s Falcons in Eastern Cyprus to understand their migratory patterns across Africa.
We received a request from Carl Jones for help to ensure the long-term survival of the Mauritius Kestrel, a species that may forever be conservation dependent. Rick Watson attended a symposium on Mauritian wildlife conservation at Chester Zoo, U.K., to learn about the ongoing conservation and research projects conducted in Mauritius. The projects presented were extensive, ranging from the genetic consequences of species’ rarity, or genetic basis of cryptic species, to cutting-edge geo-locator tracking of endemic Petrels or the effect of ecological replacements in habitat management.
We provided data to Dr Andrew Jenkins of the University of Cape Town, South Africa, about Teita Falcon nest locations in the Zambezi River Gorge downstream from Victoria Falls. Locations were collected from project reports written by Jim Weaver in the 1980s and Ron Hartley in the 1990s and 2000s.
The African Raptor Network list server and website (http://www.africanraptors.org) was developed in 2008 and is maintained by The Peregrine Fund’s Pan Africa Program. It has grown in popularity for African raptor biologists and enthusiasts as a platform to discuss and exchange ideas pertaining to African raptors. With the help of Markus Jais, we have begun a series of interviews with eminent raptor biologists who have conducted long-term studies on African raptors to provide mentorship and inspiration to young African students. There are 170 members on the list server.
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