This initiative is a collaboration among International Avian Research (IAR, led by Dr Michael McGrady), the Bernd Meyburg Foundation for Raptor Research and Conservation (led by Prof Bernd Meyburg who also holds the positions of deputy chairman of the Advisory Group for Ornithology and Bird Protection and chairman of Raptor Working Group of BirdLife Germany), and the Environment Society of Oman (ESO).
This initiative, launched in 2014, aims to monitor the movements of scavenging, soaring raptors (instance Egyptian vultures and eagles) in Oman, stated a press release.
Most vulture species and numerous species of eagle are in decline internationally, but current study shows Oman to be a hotspot for them, holding crucial populations of each resident and migratory people. The project aims to create a higher understanding of the movements and migration of the birds, and the habitats they use. The programme focuses on tagging vultures and eagles with tracking devices that permit detailed monitoring of their movements in order to investigate exactly where these endangered species are breeding, feeding and migrating.
Since 2014, 17 Egyptian vultures and 3 eagles (two Steppe eagles and 1 Lesser Spotted eagle) have been fitted with tags.
Dr McGrady mentioned, “So far our work has focused on Egyptian vultures, but we have also been tracking two Steppe eagles, a species that is also globally endangered. The focus in coming years may shift somewhat towards eagles because we are currently tracking a good number of vultures. However, trapping these species can be difficult, so we take what we can get. Trapping the hybrid spotted eagle was a pleasant surprise, and already the data are fascinating.”
Of the 4 vultures tagged in earlier years, two are identified to have died, at least 1 by electrocution. All 4 of these birds have been young ones, and young birds normally do not survive as nicely as adults. However, the electrocution of 1 of the birds indicates that this threat, which is a main result in of mortality for numerous huge birds (which includes endangered vultures and eagles) globally, is active in Oman. Also, none of the 4 vultures tagged in earlier years migrated. This might have been since they have been resident birds and would not migrate, or they might not have migrated since they have been not mature.
Prof Meyburg mentioned, “The Steppe Eagles tagged in January 2017 spent their summer in Central Asia, visiting countries such as Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan. They returned to the GCC area during the winter 2017-18, and have settled in South East and Central Saudi Arabia. The tracking provides the first detailed information on the migratory behaviour of Steppe Eagles that winter in Oman.”
The outcomes shed light on the significance of these raptors and their relationships to human activities such as waste management, electrical energy production and distribution. Oman seems to be a stronghold for these species, and as such can make crucial contributions to international conservation efforts.
Maïa Sarrouf Willson, Research and Conservation manager at ESO mentioned that the organisation aims to continue the efforts in which ever way it could.
Information Source: Muscat Daily