Carrion ecology modelling for vulture conservation : are vulture restaurants needed to sustain the densest breeding population of the African white-backed vulture?

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Kane, Adam
Jackson, Andrew L
Monadjem, Ara
Colomer, M. Àngels (Maria Àngels)Colomer, M. Àngels (Maria Àngels) - ORCID ID
Margalida, AntoniMargalida, Antoni - ORCID ID
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As obligate scavengers, vultures are entirely dependent on carrion resources. In this study we model the carrion ecology of an ecosystem in Swaziland which is home to the densest breeding population of the African White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus). We collected data on life-history parameters of the avian scavenging guild of the area as well as the potential food available from the ungulate fauna. By using novel Population Dynamics P-Systems we show that carrion provided by wild ungulates biomass is currently enough to sustain this vulture species. However, in light of forecasted population increases, food will become limiting. We discuss the significance of mass closure of supplementary feeding stations in Swaziland which now forces these birds to forage farther afield endangering them to poisoning events. We put these results in the context of biomass management and suggest conservation actions to secure the viability of vulture populations and the important ecosystem services they provide.
Journal or Serie
Animal Conservation, 2015, vol.18, núm. 3, p.279-286,