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Timbavati Vulture Surveys


RobC
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I have just gotten back from a fantastic 4 day trip to the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, bordering the Kruger National Park. I was there to monitor trees containing vulture nests and score the damage on the trees as a result of elephant impact. We had various encounters with elephants whilst on foot, and were lucky enough to see spotted hyena and side striped jackal as well.Being out in the field is always one of the perks of being a researcher here in Greater Kruger.

 

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~ @@RobC

 

Thank you so much for the sharp, clear photos.

It's great to know that there's active vulture nest surveying there.

Your photos are a plus! It's very nice of you to share them on Safaritalk.

Tom K.

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@@RobC I hope you will tell us a little more about what you discovered during your 4 day study

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@@RobC, I want your job! Are Vultures commonly seen in Timbavati?

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Thank you for conducting such important work. I sometimes hear of the crisis facing vultures; I look forward to any insights you may have as a researcher!

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Thank you for conducting such important work. I sometimes hear of the crisis facing vultures; I look forward to any insights you may have as a researcher!

Ditto from me too.

 

@@Marks - it's funny - so often when you've been online just before me, I get this urge to simply put +1 on all your comments and move on because you have this uncanny ability to say precisely what I would have said had I gotten there first :D

Edited by Sangeeta
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@@Sangeeta Thanks, likewise! I especially appreciated all of your effort and research in the Cecil thread. :)

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I hope we'll get many more posts from the field. It is indeed a real perk, and I am always interested in anything you have to share - especially since you take nice photos too.

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Hi everyone (@@pault @@Marks @@Sangeeta @@elefromoz @@Soukous @@Tom Kellie) , thanks for the comments! From what we saw in the field in Timbavati, a large portion of the vulture nests observed last year were still active. A few were remnants or abandoned but then we did find a couple cases where a new tree nearby a remnant tree had an active nest...so possibly the same vultures had moved across? Where we did find recently active nests on the floor it appears to be because of the heavy winds experienced here earlier this month. Between 2014 and 2015 none of the vulture trees had been pushed over by elephants.

Edited by RobC
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Hi everyone (@@pault @@Marks @@Sangeeta @@elefromoz @@Soukous @@Tom Kellie) , thanks for the comments! From what we saw in the field in Timbavati, a large portion of the vulture nests observed last year were still active. A few were remnants or abandoned but then we did find a couple cases where a new tree nearby a remnant tree had an active nest...so possibly the same vultures had moved across? Where we did find recently active nests on the floor it appears to be because of the heavy winds experienced here earlier this month. Between 2014 and 2015 none of the vulture trees had been pushed over by elephants.

 

~ @@RobC

 

When you write “active nests on the floor”, does that indicate that those nests had fallen down from their original location in a tree, as opposed to having originally been built on the ground?

I ask this to clarify, as my graduate students here will want to understand exactly what is meant.

Tom K.

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@@Tom Kellie it seems that RobC is suggesting the wind blew the nests out of the trees recently.

 

@@RobC thanks for the info I was about to ask you about whether there is a base line for a comparative study and clearly there is. Has there been increased elephant activity in the area generally which is causing concern or is it related to the general decline of vulture populations.

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@@Tom Kellie it seems that RobC is suggesting the wind blew the nests out of the trees recently.

 

@@RobC thanks for the info I was about to ask you about whether there is a base line for a comparative study and clearly there is. Has there been increased elephant activity in the area generally which is causing concern or is it related to the general decline of vulture populations.

 

~ @@wilddog

 

You're a more astute reader than I!

Thanks for the most helpful clarification.

Tom K.

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Hi @@Tom Kellie and @@wilddog, yes these were ones that seem to have been blown down after the early August winds here.

 

Here is a link to a scientific paper published on the previous work we have done from these surveys:

 

So this field work is building on from that study!

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Hi @@Tom Kellie and @@wilddog, yes these were ones that seem to have been blown down after the early August winds here.

 

Here is a link to a scientific paper published on the previous work we have done from these surveys:

 

So this field work is building on from that study!

 

~ @@RobC

 

I should have read as carefully as @@wilddog!

Now I understand.

There's no excuse for my careless reading.

I'd somehow muddle-headedly mixed up what you wrote with another article I read about birds building nests on forest floors.

I'm getting too old!

Your work is most important. Respected Safaritalk member @@Safaridude brought to my attention a few months ago the declining populations of Africa's vultures.

Since he did so, my consciousness has been raised. On safari I actively look for vultures.

I ought to mention that while in Kenya's Meru National Park a couple of weeks ago, I was astounded by the dozens and dozens of assembled vultures from two different species.

Every such sighting offers hope, as does your highly valuable field research.

Tom K.

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@@Rob thanks for your reply....but unfortunately the link to the original publication is not in your post.

 

If you have time it would be nice to see

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@@Rob thanks for your reply....but unfortunately the link to the original publication is not in your post.

 

If you have time it would be nice to see

Haha sorry @@wilddog I must have gotten distracted whilst writing that last post. Here it is: http://elephantsalive.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/aje121402.pdf

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Great work @@RobC ! With the important ecological role vultures fill, their very wide-ranging habits (we've recorded several tagged vultures in Zambia which were tagged in South-Africa!) and their sensitivity to certain livestock medicines, I think it's important that all bird and carnivore researchers (the latter see them a lot on carcasses) at least record numbers and species of vultures seen routinely to get a better insight in (sub-)continental trends in vulture numbers.

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