Tuesday, 07 December 2021 10:03 GMT

Oman- 13 endangered Egyptian vultures tagged in Al Multaqa area


(MENAFN- Muscat Daily) Muscat- Thirteen endangered Egyptian vultures have been successfully tagged in Al Multaqa area in Amerat in January.

This initiative is a collaboration between 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 (example Egyptian vultures and eagles) in Oman, stated a press release.

Most vulture species and many species of eagle are in decline internationally, but recent research shows Oman to be a hotspot for them, holding important populations of both resident and migratory individuals. The project aims to develop a greater 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 allow detailed monitoring of their movements in order to investigate where these endangered species are breeding, feeding and migrating.

Since 2014, 17 Egyptian vultures and three eagles (two Steppe eagles and one Lesser Spotted eagle) have been fitted with tags.

Dr McGrady said, '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 four vultures tagged in previous years, two are known to have died, at least one by electrocution. All four of those birds were young ones, and young birds typically do not survive as well as adults. However, the electrocution of one of the birds indicates that this threat, which is a major cause of mortality for many large birds (including endangered vultures and eagles) globally, is active in Oman. Also, none of the four vultures tagged in previous years migrated. This may have been because they were resident birds and would not migrate, or they may not have migrated because they were not mature.

Prof Meyburg said, '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 results shed light on the importance of these raptors and their relationships to human activities such as waste management, electricity production and distribution. Oman appears to be a stronghold for these species, and as such can make important contributions to global conservation efforts.

Maïa Sarrouf Willson, Research and Conservation manager at ESO said that the organisation aims to continue the efforts in which ever way it could.

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