The Vultures of East Africa
We produced a series of four videos documenting vulture declines in East Africa and the doctoral research of wildlife biologist and vulture expert Corinne Kendall.
Over the last thirty years, vulture numbers in East Africa have been dropping rapidly largely due to poisoning. Pastoralists lace livestock carcasses with pesticides to kill lions and hyenas that have attacked domestic animals. One poisoned cow carcass can kill over 150 vultures. We are in the midst of a crisis for African vultures that will be difficult to reverse if poisoning continues.
East Africa holds the world’s most diverse guild of scavenging species, but many of these vultures have seen 50-60% declines over the past 30 years. In East Africa these declines are caused largely through the direct poisoning of carcasses that are subsequently fed upon by large numbers of vultures and other scavengers. Vultures play a critical role in savannah ecosystems and Corinne is working with local Maasai communities to find a solution to the large-scale poisoning that has become commonplace.
Corinne used GPS technology to investigate these dramatic declines. By trapping and attaching GPS units to vultures, Corinne was able to determine why certain species of vultures are declining more rapidly than others.
Although some species face more dire threats than others, vulture populations of all species in East Africa are being poisoned and facing the threat of very serious declines. Can the African vulture crisis be averted through outreach and education programs? Vulture expert Corinne Kendall outlines the role of education and explains why outreach efforts alone will not prevent the crisis.
Podcast episode featuring an interview with Dr. Corinne Kendall, who has now completed her doctoral research and works as the Associate Curator of Research and Conservation at the North Carolina Zoo:
Podcast episode featuring an interview with Yula Kapetanakos, and expert on the vultures of Southeast Asia:
Podcast episode featuring an interview with PhD student Evan Beuchley, who is studying vultures in Ethiopia and the Middle East: