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New scientific paper uncovers significant decline in Southern Africa’s bearded vultures

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A recently published paper (Krűger et al, 2013, Bird Conservation International: Trends in territory occupancy, distribution and density of the Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus meridionalis in southern Africa) demonstrated that territory occupancy, distribution and density of the isolated Bearded Vulture population in southern Africa have all declined  significantly.

Globally, two distinct subspecies of bearded vulture are recognized – G. b. barbatus, in Europe, Asia and north Africa (where they are on the verge of extinction), and G. b. merodionalis, in Ethiopia, east Africa (where only a few pairs remain) and southern Africa.

The authors of the paper have now analyzed territory occupancy, distribution and density of G.b. meridionalis in southern Africa between two time periods – 1960-1999 and 2000-2012. Of concern is that  they have found that the number of occupied breeding territories has decreased by 32%-51%, while the breeding range has decreased by 27% over the past five decades. Breeding densities also decreased by 20%. The current population is estimated at 352-390 individuals. The species has been uplisted to Critically Endangered in the red data list for the birds of southern Africa. (Photo: a G. b. meridionalis, by Sonja Krűger).

Photo: Sonja Krűger

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